Over the years, I have collected more cookbooks than my bookshelves can possibly hold. I absolutely love my books, and although I have yet to try all the recipes, they fill me with an endless source of inspiration. Give me a new cookbook or a great novel on a lazy afternoon, and the former wins every time!
There are many chefs whose work I admire, and Thomas Keller is definitely on the top of my list. The genius behind The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Per Se restaurants, Keller is a major force in the culinary world. With several of his books peppered throughout my bookshelves, he is definitely someone I look to when I need a creative perspective.
My dear friend Pam had no idea how much I admired Keller’s work when she gave me his “Bouchon Bakery” book last Christmas. Filled with mouthwatering decadence, each and every recipe spoke to the dessert-lover in me. Wanting to devour every page in the book, it was his modern take on the Oreo cookie that totally piqued my curiosity. Could a sugary, fat laden, pre-packaged snack be made using natural ingredients? Could it taste better than the original, and be transformed into something exquisite, sophisticated, and delicious? You better believe it!
In true Keller fashion, the TKO (the Thomas Keller Oreo) is nothing short of brilliant. Buttery white chocolate ganache is sandwiched between slightly salted, dark chocolate shortbread biscuits. The result is the ultimate in cookie perfection!
These really are the grown-up version of the Oreo. Tested on my kids and their friends, they are loved by anyone who has tried them. Even my Oreo-loathing husband approves.
Here’s my simplified, step-by-step, adaptation of Keller’s TKO recipe.
TKO Cookies (makes approximately 16 cookies)
Note – in this recipe, I used a 3 inch round fluted cookie cutter, but feel free to use any shape you want. Hearts for Valentine’s Day, bats for Halloween, ovals for Easter. You can get very creative with these babies!
Ingredients for the white chocolate ganache:
- 125 grams good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon heavy cream (whipping cream)
In a small saucepan, melt the white chocolate and the butter together on low heat, stirring constantly. Meanwhile, heat the cream until hot, and bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan (careful not to boil).
Pour the cream on the melted chocolate and butter mixture. Whisk until smooth.
Let cool, cover, and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight to set.
Ingredients for the chocolate shortbread:
- 1 ¾ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/8 teaspoons baking soda (yes, it reads 3/8ths!)
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Place flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Whisk and set aside.
Put butter in a large bowl. With a standing or hand-held electric mixer, mix butter on low speed until smooth.
Add sugar and salt, and mix for about two minutes until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients have been incorporated.
Add half the cocoa/flour mixture to the butter, and mix on low speed for about thirty seconds. Repeat with the remaining cocoa/flour mixture until dough comes together (do not over mix).
Place the dough on your work surface, bring it together, and form a block. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about an hour. (Note – you can refrigerate the dough for up to two days or freeze for a month).
Preheat your oven to 160 C (325 F) and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
Line a large cookie sheet pan with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge, place it between two pieces of parchment paper. If the dough is too cold to roll, let it sit at room temperature for a while until it softens.
Start pounding your block of dough to flatten it slightly. Roll it out until it is between 1/4 and 1/8th of an inch thick. A thicker cookie will be chewier, a thinner cookie will be crispier. Keep in mind that the thicker cookie will take slightly longer to bake.
Once you’ve rolled out your dough, remove the top parchment paper and start cutting out rounds from your dough. At this point, the dough will probably be too soft to transfer to the baking sheet without losing its shape.
Gently slide the dough (while it’s still on the parchment paper) on to the back of a baking sheet or a flat platter. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. This will make transferring the cookie dough rounds to the baking sheet much easier.
Remove the dough from the freezer. Carefully peel off the excess dough from the cookie rounds, and transfer the rounds onto the baking sheet (I use an offset spatula for this). Leave ½ an inch of space between each round.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the cookies are set and slightly cracked on the surface. You won’t be able to ignore sweet, chocolatey smell, it is amazing! Let cool completely before adding the ganache.
Any leftover dough can be collected and rolled again. You can bake any leftover scraps of dough and crumble them into ice cream, use as a base for cheesecake, or just to snack on.
Direction to ice the cookies:
Remove the ganache from the fridge. With an electric mixer, mix for about 3 minutes until the ganache thickens and holds firm peaks.
Using a piping bag, pipe enough ganache to cover the cookie round while leaving a bit of space from the edge. Alternatively, you can use a spoon to mound the ganache onto the cookie and spread an even layer over the cookie.
Top with a second cookie (smooth side up) and press gently until they come together.
I guarantee that you’ll never eat another packaged Oreo again!
Copyright © 2016 Lidija’s Kitchen, including personal images taken by the author.