Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Joanne Chang's Recipe for Homemade Oreo Cookies

Number one Oreo Fan
Stephanie and Mason 
        We couldn't let this momentous occasion pass without throwing a party.  This week, the Oreo cookie, invented in New York's Chelsea, is having its 100th birthday.  With over 491 billion Oreos having been consumed since 1912, it is by far and away the most popular cookie of the 2oth century.  And following its introduction in China in 2006, it is now the number one cookie there as well. I spent time last Spring with someone whose passion for Oreo cookies can readily be seen in the picture above.  My grandson Mason’s days are punctuated with pleas for these great American treats.  Since they are inevitably accompanied by a glass of milk and since his phenomenal nanny, Stephanie, keeps the cookies down to a minimum, there’s something wholesome about  his love of Oreos.  Too bad he’s yet to taste Andrew’s Homemade version of Joanne Chang’s deeply chocolate crisps and luscious vanilla cream. 
The incomparable Joanne Chang
        I don’t think anyone ever came back from China raving about the desserts they’ve eaten there.  But I do know that one Chinese-American baker is hugely admired—not just in her hometown where she’s opened three bakeries in ten years—but all over the country since she published her first cookbook  “Flour. Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe” (Chronicle Books 2010).  She’s Joanne Chang and the story of how she came to baking is one of those “only in America” stories that make us love the melting pot –even when it isn’t full of chocolate
      Joanne grew up without desserts.  Except for an occasional plate of orange sections, the Chang household didn’t satisfy any sweet teeth.  Instead, Joanne was introduced to America’s obsession through visits to friends’ houses where she met up with Chips Ahoy, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Jello Pudding and Duncan Hines cake mixes.  And of course, Oreo Cookies.
        Before Joanne started baking, she went to Harvard and graduated with honors in Applied Mathematics and Economics.  I can’t imagine what her parents thought when she quit her job as a Management Consultant to go off and cook professionally.  But she did. And the result is her burgeoning baking empire in Boston where you will now find three Flour Bakeries and Cafes.*  And then of course,  there’s the Chinese restaurant she opened with her husband, Christopher Myers, in 2007.  Called Myers+Chang, it’s in Boston’s South End (1145 Washington Street Boston, MA 02118 Tel: (617) 542-5200).
        Now it did occur to me to ask why on earth Joanne (and Andrew for that matter) decided to bake Homemade Oreos.  Andrew answered that he was sure they’d be better than the originals –richer, more chocolately, more vanilla in the filling, and way better than Nabisco. The only thing Andrew might change about Ms. Chang's recipe is to double the filling.  This recipe isn't doubled but it's easy enough to do.  But with or without more filling, I am only sorry that my little Oreo eater hasn’t yet had the pleasure.  But I am sure he will. Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Homemade Oreo Cookies courtesy of Joanne Chang

To make Joanne Chang’s Oreos, allow 1 hour for the dough to firm before shaping, then several more hours for it to chill before slicing. You can refrigerate the dough for up to 1 week or freeze it for 1 month (defrost in the refrigerator). The log may settle as it chills, so reroll it every 15 minutes if you’re around during the initial chilling so the log stays round. The filling will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let it come to room temperature before using.
For the Cookies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 egg
1½ cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the butter and the sugar until combined. Whisk in the vanilla and melted chocolate. Add the egg and stir until well blended.

2. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend them. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The finished dough should feel like Play-Doh. Cover the dough with plastic, and set aside for 1 hour or until firm. 

3. Place the dough on a long sheet of parchment paper. Use your hands to shape it into a rough log, about 10 inches long and 2 ½ inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the parchment. Roll the parchment around the log. With your hands on the paper, roll the dough into a tighter log, keeping the diameter the same.

4. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or until it is firm enough to slice without crumbling.
5. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Remove the dough from the paper. Cut the log into 32 slices, each a quarter-inch. Set them on the baking sheets 1 inch apart.
7. Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, checking them often after 15 minutes, or until they are firm when touched in the center.
8. Cool completely on the sheets.

For the Filling:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on low speed for half a minute. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.
2. Beat in the milk and salt. The filling will look and feel like spackle.

3. Place 1 tablespoon of filling on the flat side of 16 cookies. Press the remaining 16 cookies on the filling, flat sides against the cream, to evenly distribute the filling.
4. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

*Flour Cafe and Bakery locations are as follows:

Fort Point Channel 12 Farnsworth St., Boston MA 02210
617.338.4333 Mon-Fri 7a-7p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 9a-4p

South End 1595 Washington St., Boston MA 02118
617.267.4300 Mon-Fri 7a-9p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 8a-5p

Central Square 190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139
617.225.2525 Mon-Fri 7a-8p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 9a-5p


  1. Looks amazing, thanks for sharing, my family will love it.

  2. So glad you like it. It will be tons of fun for your family to make together. All best, Monte

  3. This looks great, but I think you have the amount of flour wrong. It didn't resemble Play-Doh at all, so I double-checked another site and saw that it should be 1 1/2 cups. Thanks!

    1. Oh my goodness, Jessica, thank you for letting me know. I hate typos! But spellcheck doesn't help when you make a terrible mistake like this! All best, Monte

  4. Hi Monte, can you tell me how crispy these cookies should be? As crisp as an Oreo? Thank you, Jen

    1. Hi Jen, and thanks for asking. These cookies are every bit as crisp as a boxed Oreo! And absolutely even more delicious. All best, Monte