Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Homemade Oreo Cookies...Valentine's Day Sweets

I love Valentine's Day!  When I was a kid, my Mother would make a fun deal out of it, with a little treat, trinket, or toy for my sister and myself to see when we got home from school that day.  I couldn't walk home fast enough on those special days. She always had the right touch and unique style to make it a holiday to remember.  When I got older, it was obviously less interesting, as I was hoping for a "real" valentine from some goofy boy (and that never materialized), but it was still a comfort to know that Mom already thought of me.  In fact, she thought of me almost every single Valentine's Day until she passed away, with a card or little something.  That's just how she was.  I miss that.  It is gone forever.

Now, it is my turn to pass on that love to my kids.  One of their favorite cookies in the whole world is a Nabisco Oreo, much to my surprise, as we never had Oreos growing up.  If we had chocolate sandwich cookies of any kind, they were Sunshine Hydrox, or my personal favorite, Famous Amos.  I say "if", because we really didn't have very many packaged cookies, unless they were Windmill cookies or Vienna Fingers for my lunchbox.  Sometimes assorted Mother's cookies--Taffy or Iced Oatmeal. If we had cookies for special times, my Mom made them from scratch.  But occasionally, there would be chocolate sandwich cookies in a package up on the top shelf of the pantry (later I realized it was my Dad that had bought them).   They were a treat for sure.

In my Good Housekeeping "Cookies!" cookbook, there is a recipe for Refrigerator Cookies using cocoa.  I adapted it in only one way, using Dutched Cocoa rather than Natural Cocoa.  These chocolatey cookies turn out to be just the right crunchy texture and size to sandwich a fluffy layer of my vanilla icing into bite-sized goodness.  I made them last night to test out and the girls gobbled their samples right up.  Paige (my 5 year old) said, with a grin, "Oh! They're Mommy Oreos!"  and proceeded to lick the filling from the two cookies like a pro.  She then wanted to dip the cookies in milk.  Phoebe (my 8 year old) was my biggest worry, since they don't exactly look like Oreos (my girl has autism and is quite par-tic-u-lar)...but she devoured hers, and asked for more. I was the happiest Mommy on the planet. <3

For Valentine's Day, you could make the dough a few days ahead of time, wrap it in waxed paper, and cut when you're ready.  You can also make the icing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge with the dough.  When you're ready to assemble, just put a little bit, about a teaspoon or so--on the bottom side of one of the cookies and top it with another...and voilá!  Put  a half-dozen together and place them in a small treat bag or box, wrap with ribbon, and leave for your child to see when they return home.  A sweet treat for your loved ones that they will surely enjoy!

And now, the recipe:

Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies (from Good Housekeeping)

1 2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. white granulated sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. dutch-process cocoa (cocoa with alkali)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter
2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate, melted and somewhat cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and both brown & white sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in chocolate and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in egg. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture until well combined.
Divide dough in half. On seperate sheets of waxed paper, shape each half into a 12" x 1 1/2" log.  Wrap each log in waxed paper and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Move one rack in the oven to the top and one rack to the bottom. Cut one log into scant 1/4" thick slices.  Bake until firm, 10 to 11 minutes, rotating sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking.  Cool on cookie sheets for one minute before transferring to wire cooling racks.
Repeat with remaining refrigerated log.

1/2 c. high-ratio shortening
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla
1-2 T milk
pinch of salt

Beat shortening until light and fluffy; add powdered sugar slowly.  Add milk, vanilla, and salt.  Beat until combined thoroughly. Let icing rest for about an hour before use.

spoon on about 1 tsp of icing, and use another cookie to top it.


I hope you make Valentine's Day special for someone you love, or that someone makes it special for you!


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