thursday things

So this is what the “holidays” look like in Phoenix.  Like living in a desolate wasteland.

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is only one week away!  ONE WEEK!  I love cooking (obviously) but I’m also super thankful that I’m not hosting this year.  Not so thankful that I will be working that day, but you win some you lose some I suppose.  At least I will be off in time to eat some delicious Thanksgiving food (that I didn’t have to cook myself)!

Those of you who are hosting, did you know that there are several items that you can make in advance? Like, today? You can make your rolls, stuffing, and even your gravy over the weekend leaving you free to visit with your guests on the big T-Day. Unless, of course, you don’t want to visit with your guests on Thanksgiving… I won’t tell.

With holiday baking starting this weekend, now is probably a good time to check your leavening agents to make sure your cakes and cookies will bake correctly. On the off-chance you don’t bake often, baking soda and baking powder DO go bad. If you don’t remember how long ago you opened yours, they might be worth checking.

I’m dying over these cupcakes on A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Latte Cupcakes. It’s everything I love in one tiny, delicious package! Like they were made with me in mind.

Even though I don’t believe in talking about Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving (with Nordstrom earning my respect with this Nordstrom initiative).  I wish more stores would follow suit.

(YOU GO WITH YOUR BAD SELF, NORDSTROM!)

I got super excited at a recent trip to home depot where we saw Yoda in a santa outfit!  We have almost zero Christmas decorations so of course I immediately started jumping up and down and screaming about how we needed to have it.  (Note: I would have had the same reaction even if our entire house was filled to the top with Christmas decorations)

Not want.  Need.  BF said we couldn’t get it because he knows I will set it up in our bedroom for the other 11 months of the year.  As if that’s a “bad” thing…

OMG!  And look whose home-made faux-reos made the cover for this week’s Share Your Sweets on SeriousEats! You can click the picture to go straight to the recipe.

I’ve been really bad about entering pictures lately.  I kinda forgot the whole thing existed… oops?  You should definitely make these, they’re super easy and you can make a million variations of the filling.  So good.  Now I want to make them again!

Speaking of SE, they posted this video of things exploding in the microwave (in slow motion).  If you, like me, have always wanted to explode things in the microwave, but realize that you would end up cleaning up the mess, this video may help to fulfill that desire.  Or strengthen it.  I’m still not sure which.

That’s all my Thursday things… Enjoy your weekend, I’ll have a Thanksgiving roundup this weekend for those of you who are still trying to plan your menus!

fauxreo

m4s0n501

fauxreo

Oreos are one of many childhood delights that still hold a special place in my heart. You know how sometimes you buy something thinking about how awesome it used to be when you were little? Then, once you eat it, you’re filled with sadness and disappointment (and sometimes disgust)? I don’t get that with Oreos. They’re just as delicious today as they were when I was little. Part of their allure lies in their versatility – I add them to other desserts, eat them on their own, drown them in milk (ya know, to soften the cookie), mix them into ice cream, or even dip them in peanut butter (it’s good, trust me).

So of all the things I don’t buy at the grocery store, all those over-processed, horrible for me, not really as good as I remember them to be sweet and salty treats… Oreos still make the cut. I can’t help myself. Can’t. I don’t care what kind of horrible stuff is in them, they print the ingredients small enough that I don’t have to read them anyway.

Even when I went with my bestie to NYC, one of the items at the top of our list was (of all things) an Oreo. To be fair, it wasn’t just any old Oreo, it was a the Thomas Keller Oreo (aka “TKO”). They weren’t really Oreos – they were “grown up” Oreos. Rich, dark chocolate cookies with a classy filling enhanced with high quality white chocolate. Delicious? Yes. But an Oreo? Debatable…

TKOs made it into last year’s Christmas cookie boxes, but all the rolling and cutting and melting chocolate …. a little bit more work than I am willing to do on a regular basis. But when I read this recipe, I wasn’t even planning to bake that day. Just skimmed the recipe, realized I had all of the ingredients, and it didn’t require softened butter or rolling…  so into the kitchen I went.

These took almost no time to make. The most time-consuming part was waiting for them to cool enough for me to fill them – after my ice cream sandwich disaster, I learned my lesson about making sure my cookies are thoroughly cooled before attempting to fill them. Please take note of the word thoroughly.

They aren’t as pretty as TKOs, they lack the smooth cookie surface and the precise shape given to perfect rolled and cut cookies, but they make up for it in taste. If you want a fancy-pants grown up Oreo, you can have your TKO, but if you want your nostalgic childhood Oreo (with ingredients you can actually pronounce) – these are for you. Tasty? Yes. Pretty? Not really. :)

Faux-reos (Makes 20-24 sandwich cookies)

[ Printable Recipe ]

For the cookies:

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1-1½ cups sugar
  • 10 tbsp. (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 4 tbsp. (¼ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor (or electric mixer) mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Add the butter to the bowl and pulse or mix briefly to incorporate.  Add in the egg and mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass.
  3. Scoop by tablespoons onto parchment, spacing a couple of inches apart.  Flatten scoops slightly with moistened fingers.
  4. Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
  5. To make the filling, Beat butter and shortening on medium speed until smooth.  Add powdered sugar to the bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Blend in the vanilla extract.
  6. To assemble, pair cookies by size and pipe a swirl of filling onto half of the cookies, then top with remaining half. Press cookies together so the filling reaches the edges.

Tips

* The range of sugar called for here allows you to make these cookies as sweet as you like (or not).  To make it closer to a store-bought Oreo, use 1 cup.  For a sweeter cookie, use the full 1½ cups.  

* I don’t know if I made life easier or harder for myself, but I didn’t feel like piping anything, so I just used my cupcake spatula and filled my cookies that way. Didn’t make the filling as pretty and smooth, but the cookies were already not pretty and smooth, so I didn’t really care too much.

[ Adapted from Annie’s Eats ]