A few weeks ago, there was some silly listicle floating around Facebook or Twitter. This list was called the “18 Best Things About Being in Your Late Twenties” and was full of dumb, pithy generalisms like “You don’t feel like a loser staying in on a Friday night.” I quickly dismissed the article as garbage, and was in the middle of exiting out the window when a bullet point caught my eye:
You’ve trimmed most of your “friend fat”. You’ve finally ditched the people who are shitty friends, who do drugs, or who cancel plans so much that you seem them about as often as you see your cat fly. You’re fine with this because you’d rather have fewer good friends than a large number of crummy ones.
I rolled my eyes and continued closing out of the tab. But if I’m going to be 100% honest, something about that bullet point got me thinking. I spent the majority of my college years hanging out with an odd set of girls — that is, in retrospect, we didn’t really have much in common except for the fact that we were currently attending the same college. After college, our lack of shared interests became more and more apparent as the years went on. Slowly and steadily, I lost touch with many of them — some in more explosive ways than others, but most through simple indifference and a lack of effort.
But there have been other times when the opposite has happened. For instance, some of my closest friends now are people whom I initially knew only peripherally, like acquaintances outside my core group of friends. One such person is my friend Tracy.
Tracy and I met in San Francisco when we were both analysts working at a hilariously dysfunctional digital agency. The funny thing is, we didn’t really hang out too much when I lived in San Francisco! I’m not quite sure why — I think it might have something to do with the fact that it was my first real job after college, and I wanted to spend as much time as I could exploring the city I was new to, as well as avoiding anything to do with the job I was less than thrilled with. Tracy, a few years older than me, had lived in the city for a while and probably thought my wide-eyed naivete was a ruse.
These days, we talk to each other almost everyday about nearly everything. She’s somebody whose opinion and advice I really hold in high esteem. I often wonder how my life would have been different had we discovered our connection earlier when I still lived in San Francisco. That is, would I have been less miserable and unsure of myself with Tracy as my friend there? Would I have stayed?
In any case, regardless of what could have happened in the past, I’m glad that she’s my friend now. And these cookies are for her:
I’ve owed Tracy a few favors for some time now, and she always jokes that I can repay her back with a baked good of her choice — an opera cake. And while I would love to take on the challenge of baking an elaborate opera cake, we live 600 miles away from each other and a delicate, multi-layered espresso-soaked sponge cake is not exactly the sort of thing that I can package and easily ship.
But I do know that Tracy has a fondness for the Cookies & Cream cookie at Specialty’s. And while this isn’t an exact replica (because apparently, Specialty’s uses a chocolate cookie base instead of the vanilla base I used… oops), I hope she finds them more than satisfactory. I like to think of this cookie as a cookie within a cookie, filled with crushed Oreos and cream crumbles. So check your mail, girl. These will be there soon.
Some baker's notes:
- For the "cream" side of the cookie, I used a cookie crumb recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar, one of my favorite cookbooks. Crumbs are exactly what they sound like: clumpy, crunchy and sandy bits of flavor added to desserts like cookies, cakes and ice cream to give them that extra something something. I like to think of it as MSG for desserts. This cookie uses crumbs made primarily from butter, sugar and milk powder. PLEASE DO NOT OMIT THESE FROM THE RECIPE. They are 50% of the recipe, and your cookies will be sad Oreo cookies without them. If you're looking to save time, you can make them up to 1 month in advance — they keep well in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
- This is an odd thing to say, but you can control the texture of this cookie. If you want a subtle, salty flavored cookie with a uniform texture, continue to process the Oreo cookies until they form small, delicate crumbs. If you prefer a texture more akin to a chocolate chip cookie, studded with larger Oreo chunks, break the cookies into quarters by hand. I like to do a combination of the two textures, putting half the Oreos in the food processor and crushing the other half by hand.
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk powder, divided into 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoon portions
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled
For the Cookies:
(makes around 20 3-inch cookies)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup Oreo crumbs (around 12 Oreo cookies — but see baker's note)
- 1 1/2 cups cream crumbs (1 portion from recipe above)
- Preheat the oven to 250 (F) and prepare a baking tray by lining it with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- Combine 1/4 cup milk powder, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk together to combine. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and toss with a rubber spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.
- Spread the clusters on the prepared baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, allow the crumbs to cool completely.
- Use your fingers to crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than 1/2 inch in diameter, and place the crumbs in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons milk powder and toss until the milk powder is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
- Pour 1 1/2 ounces melted white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until the clusters are covered. Continue tossing every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon kosher salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup unsalted butter, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and 2/3 cup light brown sugar. Cream on medium high for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding 2 eggs, and continue beating for another 7 minutes. DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS CREAMING PROCESS — this looonnggg creaming process is the secret behind every perfectly textured cookie, I promise.
- Reduce the mixer to its lowest speed and add the dry ingredients from the 1st step. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute — do NOT overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Turn the mixer back on to its lowest speed and add 3/4 cup Oreo crumb and mix until they're incorporated, but no more than 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups cream crumbs and mix until they're incorporated, but no more than 30 seconds. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze the dough for 1 hour — DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. If you do, your cookies will come out misshapen and weird looking! No, really.
- When the dough has frozen for at least 1 hour, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare 2 baking trays by lining with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Use a 4-tablespoon sized cookie dough scoop to portion out the dough into the prepared baking pans, leaving a minimum of 4 inches between each cookie. Bake for 18 minutes, before allowing the cookies to cool on their baking trays on wire racks for 10 minutes. Once the cookies have cooled on the tray for 10 minutes, turn them out to a wire rack to cool completely.