When I first came to US, I saw these big boxes of Oreo cookie sold for $3 or less. I was very impressed…”My gosh”, I thought, “so many cookies for so little cost”. On top of that there were Oreo advertisements everywhere. However, I tasted one, and was sorely disappointed. To this day, I don’t get the big hoopla over Oreos.
But my kids seem to like it, don’t know why…And this was my daughter’s personal challenge to me. She wanted me to “upgrade” an Oreo. So, I decided to get over my distaste for the cookies and make a really goddamn yummy, healthy Oreo cookie.
I can tell you this though – of all the food businesses I research, Oreo has one of the best marketing folks out there. Did you hear about the time, there was a blackout at a Superbowl game and they tweeted out “Power out, No problem…you can still dunk in the dark?”. That was very clever and real-time responsive!!
Oh…and the whole dunking in milk routine, colorful imaging and graphics, peel-open packaging etc – for what’s basically a cookie company, they are very innovative in the fields of packaging, social media and marketing.
But, what about the product? – Plain Oreos have no preservatives unlike some Indian biscuits*. The sugar levels (3 cookies = 14 g) for a cookie are decent too. Those are good aspects, giving credit where it is due.
But, there is always a but…..Where they usually get you, is by packing, like a 1000 cookies (exaggerating, of course) in a box. You decide that you are too tired to cook dinner, start nibbling on 1 or 2 and stop about 20 cookies later. Binge eating from an oreo packet is a big hazard to your weight management plan. Also, they are everywhere – every store, inside icecreams, inside milkshakes, everywhere. That’s their job – to be everywhere. Your job is to say NO to the million times you see the product and yes to the one time you geniunely feel like eating it.
Or….you could bake a super-healthy version, like the one below!! (Clever segue, eh?!!)
Upgrade my Oreo
The ingredient list for Oreo is what you would expect from a store-bought cookie. It includes refined flour, palm oil, high fructose & artificial flavor. These ingredients can be upgraded in a home version.
Here are the ways in which I made Oreos healthier –
- I used whole wheat flour in my cookie. Most cookies in the market do not use whole wheat flour because it spoils faster than refined flour and that reduces the shelf life of the product (most supermarket shelf products have a shelf life of 6mos- 1 year or more). But since I am making it at home and using it within a week or so, I need not worry about shelf life. I could also freeze them if I wanted to keep it longer.
- I added wheat germ to my cookie. Wheat germ boosts the nutritional profile of my cookie. Check out this post to see the benefits of wheat germ. By the way, it adds an awesome chewy texture in the cookie, which was a double bonus.
- I used almond-honey as my inside filling which makes its richer in protein and other nutrition parameters compared to the palm oil/sugar/high fructose corn syrup used in the Oreos.
Step by Step pics
In a bowl, add whole wheat flour, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and milk powder
Add the wet ingredients – butter and honey and knead into a ball
Place the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes. After that, make small balls (about 1 tbspn dough) and place them on a buttered sheet.
Next, use a Ziploc sheet to press out cookies. I was inspired to use this technique from Feastingonfruit.com. This is a much easier technique than the traditional rolling out the huge dough, cutting out shapes, re-converging the leftovers and repeat.
Place the cookies in 350F oven. Mine took about 9 minutes to get done. They go in looking like this..
Come out looking like this…
For the filling:
I used soaked and peeled almonds for getting the white color. If soaking and peeling sounds like too much work for you, you could substitute cashews or macadamias for a white color. Long time readers know I am not a fan of cashews nutritionally. But, almond has a really good nutritional profile, and those who don’t care to get the color exactly right could also use almonds directly without soaking.
Roast the wet, peeled almonds in the 350F oven for about 20 minutes. If using almonds directly without soaking, they only need to be roasted 8-10 minutes.
Add oven roasted almonds to food processor and powder finely. This will take time – be patient. You will need to open and scrape the sides a few times.
Add 3 Tbsp of honey and blend until you get a smooth and sweet filling.
Take it out into a bowl. Make balls out of 1 tbspn of filling and add to the cookie.
Are you ready for yumminess?
- 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/4 cup Wheat Germ
- 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
- 1/8 cup Milk Powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 cup Butter
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1 cup Almonds
- 3 Tbsp Honey
- Splash of Vanilla
In a bowl, add the dry ingredients - whole wheat flour, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and milk powder.
Add the wet ingredients - butter (room temperature) and honey and knead the batter just enough to bring it into a large ball. It will be a little sticky.
Place the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes. The butter will set and make the dough a little more firm making it easier to handle next.
Take the dough out of the freezer and make balls (about 1 Tablespoon dough) each. I got 14 balls, which would give me 7 large cookies.
If the weather is warm, freeze the balls once more for 5-10 min. Again this will firm up the butter and make it easier to press it out.
Using a plastic sheet, press out the balls into circular disks, using the back of a regular drinking glass. The plastic sheet (at the top and bottom of the ball) helps to avoid dough stickiness and it will peel out clean.
Place the cookies in 350F oven. They will be ready between 8-10 minutes.
Soak almonds overnight. Peel the almonds one by one.
Place the peeled, wet almonds in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes until they are dry and a little roasted.
Place the roasted almonds in the food processor and process them until it becomes a fine powder.
Add the honey, vanilla and run it again. Open the processor once or twice to scrape out the honey stuck to the edges.
Take the almond filling mixture in a bowl.
Assemble and serve!! Yumm yumm!!
- I added milk powder to the cookie to cut down the sharpness of the cocoa powder.
- If you are using only raw almonds and wish to avoid the soaking and peeling step, roast them for only 8-10 minutes.
- You cannot add a liquid (eg milk, water) to the filling mixture, otherwise the cookie will get soggy when you add the filling in-between.
I hope this inspires you to bake a healthier cookie at home. What are your thoughts on Oreo? Share your comments down below or on my Facebook page. I love to hear from all of you.
*Indian biscuits are sold in much smaller packets (yay!), but vary in ingredients (nay!). They vary the gamut from good to terrible, not necessarily reflecting the outside image (it will be some happy-looking kid), but you need to look at the ingredients. If anyone is interested in a detailed analysis of Indian biscuits, let me know.