Originally published March 29, 2000:
The Oreos are stacked on the end of an aisle at Safeway, designed to tempt wayward shoppers.
And at $2.50 a bag, they're a relatively cheap indulgence in a valley where the idea of treating yourself frequently involves a foreign luxury car.
So, since the folks at Nabisco have done such a fine job making Oreos, why would anyone bother doing anything other than tearing open a bag and twisting said cookies apart to scrape the filling off with his or her teeth?
But when Silicon Valley expatriate Elana Kehoe, living in Ireland, wondered about making Oreos, recipes flooded in from Home Plates readers. As usual, you guys love any chance to thumb your nose at the big boys.
There's something about a knockoff recipe that says we're wise to corporate America, that we could survive without Nabisco and Hostess if we had to. A recipe for Oreos is a little inner-sanctum knowledge, despite the fact that the ingredients just might cost more than a bag of the real goods.
Gloria Pitzer and Todd Wilbur are the gurus of knockoff recipes, and perhaps there's a certain irony that their recipes are copied, passed around from neighbor to neighbor and distributed willy nilly on the Internet.
For a fun look at Wilbur's work, Elizabeth Rhein suggests you check out www.topsecretrecipes.com
Unfortunately for Kehoe, she'll have to find a Duncan Hines cake mix to re-create her beloved Oreos. And just for fun, here is Pitzer's recipe for knockoff Twinkies, submitted by Josephine DeFranco.
From Todd Wilbur's "More Top Secret Recipes, " submitted by many readers
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1 18.25-ounce Duncan Hines dark Dutch fudge cake mix
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons shortening
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Blend cookie ingredients with electric mixer, then knead with hands until it reaches the consistency of dough. Form dough into balls about 3/4-inch in diameter and press flat, 1/2 inch apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 4 to 6 minutes, or until crunchy.
Let cookies cool on sheets. As they cool, combine filling ingredients well with electric mixer. With hands, form filling into balls about 1/2- to 3/4-inch in diameter. Place filling ball in center of flat side of cooled cookie and press with another cookie, flat side down, until filling spreads to edge.
Gloria Pitzer, from reader Josephine DeFranco
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
To make filling: Cream butter 5 minutes at medium speed. Add shortening a little at a time. Cream 3 to 4 minutes. Add sugar a little at a time. Mix milk and vanilla, and add to mixture, scraping bowl frequently. The longer you beat mixture, the better it becomes.
To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch square cake pans or baking dishes or use a 13-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch pan. Beat eggs and vanilla together for 1 minute, then add other items one at a time, beating a minute after each addition. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes (40 to 45 minutes in oblong pan), or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan.
It's best to use cake when it is slightly frozen. About 30 minutes in the freezer works best.
Cut cake into 1 1/2-inch by 3 1/2-inch bars. Put bottom side of each bar on wax paper, spread half of the bars with filling and top with unfrosted bar, sandwich style. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks; freeze up to 1 year.