Happy Tuesday! Today’s post combines two things that are new to me: chocolate sandwich cookies that are not vegan (what?!) and the super-talented Dutch photographer, Rineke Dijkstra. Let’s tackle the whole Oreos being vegan thing: I. Had. No. Idea. That. Oreos. Were. Vegan. Consider my mind blown! Anyway, these chocolate sandwich cookies are definitely not vegan. Sorry, not sorry! I am however sorry that I didn’t really know about Rineke Dijkstra before now. She has been in the photography scene since the 1990s, focusing primarily on striking, large-format portraiture that draws from the Dutch old masters. Her works show single subjects, standing full-length, and looking straight towards the camera. Dijkstra skillfully gains the trust of her subjects, who in turn let her (and us) into an intimate and particular moment in their lives.
In her early 1990s series Beach Portraits, Dijkstra profiles a bunch of teenagers posing at the beach in their bathing suits; at once awkward and engaging. These honest-faced subjects bare everything for the camera, but just for a moment, allowing the viewer to quickly glance into their adolescent world. In De Panne, Belgium August 7, 1992 we see a teenage girl, posing in her black and white striped one-piece bathing suit. Her hands are straight at her sides, and she stares intently forward, not directly meeting your eye. She looks a little self-conscious, but you also can’t look away. The image is perfectly composed and vibrant in color, further adding to the crisp shadows and highlights that deepen the girl’s relationship with her surroundings. Dijkstra’s work is truly very honest, and I think that is why I like it so much. Meanwhile, I made these chocolate sandwich cookies, which taste just like Oreos, but better because they are homemade. The sleek, minimal black and white cookie looked too much like this stripy bathing suit, so really I didn’t have a choice. It’s also awesome that one from an edition of 15 of this striking photograph is being auctioned off today – check it out!
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup shortening (I used this)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
To make the cookies:
Sift together the dry ingredients: the flour, cocoa powder,
baking sold, baking powder and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, or the
bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar for a few
minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. Slowly pour in
the dry mixture, stirring just until everything is incorporated. Shape the
dough into two small discs, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at
least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove one of the discs of dough from the fridge, and roll out over a floured surface until about 1/8 in. thick. Using a 1 ½-2 in. cookie cutter, stamp out as many circles as possible, and carefully transfer them to the cookie sheet. Once the cookie sheet fills up (remember to leave an inch or 2 between each cookie) bake for about 8 minutes, and let cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to a cooking rack, and repeat with the remaining dough.
While the cookies bake and cool, prepare your filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and shortening until light and fluffy, a few minutes. Add in the vanilla and vanilla bean, and then slowly mix in the confectioner’s sugar, about ½ cup at a time. Keep beating until the filling reaches both the sweetness and consistency you want.
Using a small knife or offset spatula spread a quarter-sized portion of frosting on the bottom side of one of the cookies, and carefully add a top cookie. Slowly squeeze down on the sandwich and adhere, and wipe away any extra filling. Repeat and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Food52, and influenced by the Dijkstra Icebox Cake in Modern Art Desserts: Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Confections, and Frozen Treats Based on Iconic Works of Art
Featured art: Rineke Dijkstra, De Panne, Belgium August 7, 1992, chromogenic print. Image via Christie’s image ltd. 2015.