Stephen Jackson's Oreos
AFTER last week’s foray into the world of modernist cuisine, I thought it time to get back to simpler things, and indulge again in a spot of baking.
And we’re taking on an all-American classic this week – the Oreo cookie.
For those that don’t know, it’s a delightful, if extremely naughty, treat, made of two dark, crunchy chocolate biscuits sandwiching a smooth vanilla cream, similar I suppose to our Bourbon or Custard Cream biscuits.
It has been a staple snack for the US since 1912, and is now synonymous with the traditional bedtime snack of cookies and milk – anyone who’s watched Sesame Street will know the calming potential of this combination.
It’s not something that ever really caught on in the UK in such a major way, despite our deep love of biscuits, and fresh milk for that matter, but for an American child there is magic in the simplicity of a big glass of wholesome milk and a couple of Oreos.
No-one really knows the origin of the name Oreo; some say it’s from the Greek word meaning ‘beautiful’ or ‘nice’, others say that it was developed from the word ‘cream’. All we know for sure is that it’s one of the best-selling biscuits on the planet, and now exists in many versions in dozens of countries all over the world.
As with many biscuits, there is an unofficial technique to eating them ‘properly’. The idea is to prise off one of the biscuits (this must be done perfectly in one go, for total satisfaction) and then lick or scrape the vanilla cream from the remaining half with the tongue or the teeth, taking as long as humanly possible.
The remaining biscuits are then dipped in milk and munched. Repeat the process ad infinitum, or until the biscuits have all gone.
I dearly love these little traditions and ceremonies we build around our favourite snacks. A friend of mine had a very elaborate way of eating Mars bars (leaving the caramel layer until the end) which I instantly copied, and in Australia the pleasure of drinking hot tea is improved tenfold when the tea is sucked through the core of a Tim-Tam whose ends have been bitten off – making the whole biscuit a giant chocolate-y straw.
Sadly we don’t have Tim-Tams in the UK – the nearest thing is a Penguin – but I am sad to report that results were variable at best! I’m sure you all have a favourite little biscuit trick you do to prolong the pleasure.
Now then, back to the baking. Our Oreos are a million miles from the packet version – instead of a long list of chemicals and preservatives, our cookies contain nothing but natural ingredients – good chocolate, unrefined sugar, vanilla and butter. This way, even if you’re spoiling yourself rotten, you can do it with a clear(ish) conscience!
Not only that, but they are a good deal softer and chewier than the original, which some will prefer – Original Oreo biscuits do have a habit of getting stuck in the teeth! This is a good recipe for trying with the kids – the dough is an easy one to make and roll out, and there’s much fun to be had in splodging the icing everywhere. Just be careful of the hot oven, and the temptations that the piping hot chocolate biscuits may present.