For me, a perfect dessert is a careful contradiction, a balance of textures and tastes, of sweet and salty and an undertone of something tart or bitter.

And sometimes you can hit that balance by happy accident. That’s what happened here. As a finishing touch for our recent Sandwich Party, I tried another blogger’s recipe for chocolate sandwich cookies. The flavors sounded promising, but something in it rang alarm bells for me.

And rightly so. My dough didn’t come together as promised — or at all — so I had to improvise. A little melted butter here, a little extra flour there, and a rest in the fridge did wonders. Thanks to instinct and accident, I ended up with a winner of a recipe, one that I know I’ll make again and again. (And then laziness, inattention, and a power outage delayed my posting. But you have it now, my sweeties, and I have the accidental recipe archived here for many future occasions, so let’s count our blessings.)

I love this cookie. I call them “fauxreos,” but they deliver so much more than an Oreo: more chocolate punch, with a rich, almost bitter undertone, more crispy crunch and creamy lushness. The crispy chocolate wafers are deeply, darkly chocolatey and faintly sweet, with a slightly salty edge that makes them the perfect foil to the rich sweet filling. The assembly process is a bit of a chore, but when you bite into the first cookie, you’ll know it’s worth every moment.

Elsa’s fauxreos

1 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. Dutch cocoa (not the lighter natural cocoa; these wafers need not only the flavor and color of Dutch cocoa, but also its high pH)
scant 1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (not kosher salt)
10 TBS butter, or 5 TBS butter and 5 TBS shortening, room temperature
1 large egg

With a fork, 6 TBS of butter (or butter and shortening) until just smooth. Do NOT whip until light; unlike most cookie recipes, you are not trying to incorporate air into the dough.

Melt remaining 4 TBS butter (or shortening) and let cool.

Sift together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into butter as well as you can. Mixture will be dry. Add egg and stir well with fork.

Pour melted butter (or shortening) into dough and stir until dough comes together into a mass. The dough will be dark, stiff, and slightly shiny.

Form into logs and wrap in plastic wrap or parchment, rolling dough well under hands to compact it. The dough will spread in the oven, so size your logs accordingly. For sandwich cookies the size of a half-dollar, make logs the diameter of a U.S. quarter. Refrigerate dough logs at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Take well-chilled dough log from fridge and slice into thin rounds. A knife can crush the slices, so I use a long piece of dental floss: slide it under the log, cross the threads above the log, and pull tight. You’ll have nice even rounds that hold their shape.

Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. If prepping the panful of cookies takes a long time, stow the waiting slices in the fridge; warm dough spreads too thin. For subsequent batches, be sure to use a cool baking sheet; a warm sheet causes the dough to spread.

Bake at 375F for 6-8 minutes, or until flat and fragrant. (If your cookies are puffy, they have not quite finished baking. Return to oven and they’ll flatten out.) Cool completely on a rack and store air-tight to retain crispiness.

not-cream filling
8 TBS butter, room temperature, or 4 TBS butter and 4 TBS shortening (In cool weather, all butter is fine; in warm weather, an all-butter filling will become soft and liquid.)
2 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp milk or water

Beat butter well. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until incorporated; filling will be stiff and chalky. Add vanilla and milk and beat until light and smooth. You can make this filling ahead: refrigerate well-covered, bring to room temperature, and beat to lighten before spreading on cookies.

3 thoughts on “fauxreos

  1. You’ll notice that a few cookies have heart-shaped cut-outs; that’s a tiny way to celebrate big news: two dear friends got engaged that week, so I marked the occasion with hearts.

    This dough spreads like crazy, so cutting out shapes and then baking was useless. I had to bake the cookies, then cut out the hearts immediately after removing them from the oven, while the wafers were still hot and pliable.

  2. They really are soooooo goooooood. The procedure is a little fussy, but not at all hard or tricky, and worth every second. It’s hard not to go make more RIGHT NOW.

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