Homemade Oreo Cookies

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I’m still chuckling over the hugeness of this picture but alas, these cookies deserve to be in the spotlight. If you haven’t noticed yet, I have a soft spot for all things sweet and chocolaty. I suppose it is also contributing to my physical soft spot but details, shmetails. We have been making soft homemade oreo cookies for a few years from a cake box recipe that I received from Mike’s mom. They are pretty good but I have really been trying to move away from boxed anything and so one night I spent an exorbitant amount of time hunting for a good homemade version. I stumbled upon the recipe that I am going to share today and I LOVE IT! They are a lot different from the other version but I really like them because they more closely resemble an Oreo than the soft oreo counterparts.

The picture above was from the last time I made these cookies which happened to be the day before Garrett was born. I meant to post this recipe way back then but Garrett has had other things in mind. The last time we made these cookies I made half the batch regular and the other half with mint extract and some natural green food dye. Tomorrow the girls and I are going to make some of these for Christmas except for this time I am going to use peppermint extract and crunch up some natural candy canes and put them in the frosting as a tribute to my new favorite Candy Cane cookies from Trader Joe’s. I’ve also considered doing some dipped Oreo’s but for now I think I’ll stick with the Candy Cane ones. I’ll post pics when we finish them.

For now here is the recipe. Enjoy!

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Homemade Oreo Cookies

Makes 25-30 cookies


For the Cookie:

1 1/4 cup Flour

1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch Process Cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 – 1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) room temperature butter

1 large egg

For the Frosting:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room temperature butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

2 tsp vanilla extract.

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. While pulsing (or on low speed), add the butter and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

3. Take rounded teaspoons (or larger, just depends on how big you want your cookies) of batter and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough (I had success by cooking these on our baking stone and flattening with a parchment paper lined glass to get them uniformly round and flat).

4. Bake 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

5. To make the cream filling, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl. On low speed gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

5. To assemble cookies put filling in a  pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip (or use a gallon size ziploc bag and snip off the corner). Pipe a teaspoon sized amount of filling onto a cookie and place another cookie (of equal size) on top. Lightly press to work the filling evenly to the outside of the cookie. Continue until cookies or frosting is gone.

6. Eat the cookies! I love to have extra cookies because they make the BEST ice-cream sandwiches. The best I tell you! Simply put your favorite ice cream in the middle of them. Wrap with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for a few hours and then devour.

Tips:

Yes, you should use vegetable shortening. I try to avoid it too but really it is a somewhat necessary evil in these cookies to achieve the right consistency with the frosting. I have also used the Spectrum version of shortening and this worked pretty well. Lard would also work.

-The type of cocoa you use does make a slight difference because of the way the dutch cocoa affects the alkalinity of the cookies. If you can’t find the dutch process cocoa then you could also use Hershey’s Special Dark. If you don’t have that either you can use regular cocoa but your cookies may be puffier. They’ll still taste delish though!

-If you are going to make mint or peppermint filling omit the vanilla and replace with 1/2 teaspoon of pure mint or pure peppermint extract. Trust me you don’t need more than 1/2 teaspoon.

-The sugar content in the actual cookie (1 to 1 1/2 cups) should be adjusted based on how sweet you want your cookie. I prefer to use only 1 cup because I think it is plenty sweet with just the one cup.

-For a gluten free version go HERE.

I found the recipe HERE. Originally the recipe appeared, HERE.

Sunbutter: The Peanut Butter Alternative

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Happy, Happy, Joy!

I can not tell you how happy I was to learn about Sunbutter. The topic came up on a pregnancy forum that I frequent in regards to moms that are avoiding peanut butter during pregnancy for fear that it leads to peanut allergies in their offspring. I’m not sure I agree with that theory but I am so happy to have learned about Sunbutter.

Peanut butter and I were best friends before my daughter came down with a peanut allergy. I’m not sure any other food allergy could have come at such a blow to my own personal dietary preferences. Now of course, her health comes before my food cravings so we have not kept it in the house since we first learned of her peanut allergy, which requires the use of an Epi Pen, upon exposure.

Once upon a time we tried Soy Butter which was the nastiest concoction I have ever tasted and I shudder just thinking about trying to pass that off as a peanut butter alternative to my daughter. A few months ago I tried Almond Butter and all though tasty it is not something I am willing to allow Camden to try since we have been counseled to avoid all tree nuts (her only reaction thus far has been to peanuts).

Sunbutter must be a direct inspiration from Heaven, I’m sure. It is soooo good. Even my husband when he went to take a whiff of the can said, “Wow, it smells exactly like peanut butter!” And truly, it does. It tastes a lot like peanut butter too but is delicious in it’s own right. Camden’s verdict? She absolutely loves it and is asking for Sunbutter constantly. We had homemade waffles for dinner and my love for waffles is back because I was able to top them with a bit of Sunbutter and dip them into maple syrup. Mmmm, that is the only way to eat waffles. I am looking forward to making our first batch of “peanut butter” cookies made with Sunbutter and all the other yummy baked goods that we’ve missed at Christmas times because we’ve had to go peanut free.

The best part about Sunbutter is that it is safe. It is produced in a peanut free facility and is safe from any cross-contamination. Even better? It is healthy. It contains double the fiber, more iron and 30% less saturated fat than typical peanut butter. It contains no hydrogenated oils and also has 27% of the adult requirement of vitamin E, per serving. It is also Gluten Free.

We bought our first jar of Sunbutter from a store called Haggen’s for about $3.89 and it is the Sunbutter brand. We later went to Trader Joe’s and realized that they carry Sunbutter as well and it is actually made by Sunbutter but is under the Trader Joe’s label. Next time we will buy the Sunbutter from Trader Joe’s. It is only $3.50 a jar and unlike the product under the Sunbutter label the Trader Joe variety does not contain any preservatives. It has 3 ingredients: roasted sunflower seeds, evaporated cane juice and salt. Whereas the Sunbutter we purchased under it’s own label has the following ingredients: sunflower seeds, sugar, mono-diglycerides to prevent separation, salt and natural mixed tocopherols to preserve freshness. For me, I run under the simpler is better approach. 3 ingredients is better than 5. I also tried the Trader Joe’s version, which I picked up for a friend, and I prefer the taste and texture of the TJ version much more even though they are made by the same company.

I think this product is such great news for everyone. It is not just peanut allergic kids that are affected by peanut allergies. It is their siblings, their parents, their extended families, their daycares and preschools and public schools and even beyond that airlines and public places in general are affected. A product like Sunbutter allows for a very tasty and safe alternative. In some taste tests people have actually preferred the taste of Sunbutter over Peanut Butter. As a peanut butter lover I can say that I love Sunbutter (though I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that I’d choose Sunbutter over peanut butter). I honestly won’t miss peanut butter with this alternative. I am astounded by how good it is.

Sunbutter can be found at grocery stores and health food stores nationwide. It can be found at stores such as the following: Albertsons LLC, Andronico’s, Bristol Farms, Gelson’s, Giant, Kroger’s, Publix, Super Target, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, Winn-Dixie, and Whole Foods. I found mine at Haggen’s which is a chain in the Pacific Northwest. I live in Eastern Washington but will be traveling back over to the west side next month and will visit Trader Joe’s again. If anyone would like a jar and can’t find any near them please let me know and I’d be happy to ship you a jar, or two or three. :)

I do want to point out that some parents of peanut allergic children may still avoid and not want to have Sunbutter in their homes or for their children to eat it and it is important for people to try and be understanding with this choice. Their reasoning is that Sunbutter looks and tastes like peanut butter and they don’t want their children to become confused on what is and is not safe for them to eat. Since my daughter’s food environment is very controlled (by myself) and she is never exposed to food unless I okay it, I don’t necessarily have this concern. I did take time to sit down with her and explain why she could eat this and that it wasn’t peanut butter and was made from Sunflower Seeds and that unless mommy or daddy gave it to her she was not allowed to eat Sunbutter.

Halloween in Crunchville – Dye Free Candy

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I grew up celebrating Halloween like millions of other kids in America. I enjoyed it. Probably for no good reason other than it was fun to dress up and I like candy. Is that a good reason to perpetuate the Holiday? I don’t know but frankly I’m not ready to morally question Halloween yet. I like it and for now that is enough. Rather than a moral dilemma, I have had a bigger concern with how to allow my daughter to participate in Halloween without being bombarded with artificial dyes and flavors that turn her into a raving lunatic as well as peanut containing products which could send her to the Hospital in anaphylactic shock.

I was VERY happy to have stumbled upon Yummy Earth candies. We purchased their 5lb bag of Organic Assorted Lollipops at a 50% discount since we are Feingold members. We received the suckers within days and let me just tell you these things are DELICIOUS! They taste way better than any store-bought suckers not to mention they are all natural. The flavors in the assorted bag are delectable – pomegranate, watermelon, tango mango & lemon. They are literally the best suckers I have ever had.

So for those of you also concerned with how to get your artificial dye sensitive child some safe candy you can purchase lots of different varieties online. We just plan on letting her Trick-or-Treat like normal and at the end we will exchange all of her candy for the “safe” candy. If I had more time and felt like it I would just pre-visit my neighbors and ask them to reserve the safe candy for her.

Here is a list of all natural and dye free candy:

Yummy Earth

Jewels of Denial

Squirrels Nest

Pure Fun

Divvies

Dolphin Natural Chocolates

Simon’s Candy Company

Sunspire

CrispyCat Candy Bars

Glee Gum

YC Chocolate

You may also have good luck finding dye free and natural candies at places like Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods.