TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreos)

So I have a few stories to share with you, namely my fabulous “How did I get here?” experience judging the Sears Chef Challenge in Chicago last week, but I need to hang onto those for a couple more days. Because I just realized that I haven’t told you about Thomas Keller Oreos, and that’s a cruel disservice to you, my darling readers. These innocent-looking sandwich cookies are so incredible, I can’t hide this light under a bushel. Not even for a story that involves my beloved hometown, buying fantastically impractical high-heeled shoes, and eating lots of great food and judging it. These are stop the presses cookies, I’m telling you.

Evidence has shown that I am not one of those food bloggers who is so on the cutting edge of trendy recipes that I become one of the first to post on them. I tend to need a few (many) nudges before I try a much-hyped recipe and then write about it myself. For this recipe, the nudge came in the form of my week-long foray into pastry school paradise, on the day we covered cookies. One of my fellow students chose the Thomas Keller Oreos as her project (aka TKOs, KWIM?), and during the presentation and tasting part of class, I was so smack-the-counter blown away by these cream-filled gems that they were the first thing I baked at home after class the following week.

Sometimes homemade versions of iconic foodstuffs can fall flat, but Thomas Keller's version of the Oreo cookie take the original to a “don’t talk to me, I’m having a moment” sort of level, which you'd obviously expect from one of America's most celebrated chefs. The cookie itself is the deepest, darkest cocoa sable you can imagine, with a healthy hit of salt and a toothy crunch. The luxurious, silky white-chocolate ganache cream in between laughs in the face of waxy, shortening-based commercial fillings.
And while we're on the subject, I made half the batch with a ganache made with semi-sweet chocolate and there was nothing wrong with that pairing, nothing wrong at all. I think you can understand why I’m refraining from bragging about an experience that allowed me to spend two nights alone in a luxury hotel room. These cookies are Really That Good, people.

TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreos)

This is one of those times where I need to get all Ina on you and implore you to use “good cocoa powder”, or maybe not bother. The glory of these cookies is the intensely dark cocoa flavor—lesser supermarket brands will not do this recipe justice.

I used a 2-inch cutter for my cookies, which I thought was a nice size, and got several more than than the stated yield. the dough scraps can be gathered and rerolled until all the dough is used, chilling it as necessary to keep it firm and easy to work with. If you’re a “double stuf” sort of person, make a batch and a half of the filling.

Makes about 24 sandwich cookies, depending on size

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened premium cocoa powder (I like Valrhona)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
15 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3/4" cubes, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I used mostly chips instead of bar chocolate, it worked fine)

For the filling: In a small pan or microwave-safe bowl, bring the cream to a boil on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, then whisk to melt the chocolate until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, and let stand for 6 hours to thicken up (you can also chill it in the refrigerator, stirring often, to speed things up significantly).

For the cookies: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low speed. With the mixer running, add the butter, a piece at a time. The mixture will be dry and sandy at first, but over 2 minutes, will form pebble-sie pieces that start to cling together--be patient, it will eventually come together. Transfer the dough to a work surface.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each half between two large pieces of parchment paper to 1/8 inch thick. Stack the rolled sheets of dough onto a baking sheet (to keep them flat) and chill until firm, at least 15 minutes.

When you're ready to bake, position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Working with one sheet of chilled dough at a time, use a round 2 to 2 1/2-inch cutter to cut the dough into rounds (scraps can be gathered and rolled out again). Place the rounds about 1/2 an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Remove and cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

To assemble the cookies: Lightly whip the white chocolate cream to smooth it and fluff it up. Transfer filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4" plain tip. Pipe about 1 1/2 tsp in the center of half the cookies. Top with another cookie to sandwich. Gently press down until the cream comes to the edges. Refrigerate to for a few minutes to firm up the filling.

Cookies can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days (I recommend refrigerating to keep the filling from getting too soft).

CookiesShauna Sever