January is a month that is often associated with new beginnings. Resolutions, goals, a new outlook on life. It's a time to clean out your closet, reorganize, and start anew.
That's almost always impossible for me.
I always travel like crazy around the holiday season. We fly to Southern California (Bryan's family), and then Ohio (my family), and then every year we've been going to CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, which is always the first week of January.
By the time I'm settled back in Boston, January is almost half over. Not only that, my house is a mess and the mail is piled up way beyond any optimal height for physically stability. It takes me a week just to get groceries, clean up, and get back to life.
Meanwhile, we end up eating out a bit more than normal. The funny, sort of strange side effect to that? We stop by a lot of bakeries, which means I've had a unique chance to do something I've always wanted to do.
A tasting of artisanal homemade "Oreos" throughout Cambridge and beyond. 🙂
[source of photo]
OK . . . first thing's first. I should at least acknowledge the cookie that "started it all." I put that in quotes because, in reality, the Hydrox cookie, which basically looks just like an Oreo cookie, was founded first (in 1908). Oreos didn't come around until 1912. Some even accused Oreo of copying the Hydrox cookie.
Some interesting facts: Oreos were introduced to China only in 1996. By 2006 (after Nabisco changed the recipe by reducing the sugar), the Oreo became the best selling cookie in China. China is now the second largest market for Oreos, right behind the US.
I admit, I do love the taste of the Oreo chocolate cookie, and "cookies & cream" is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. However, I've always disliked the sugary center, thinking it's too sweet. I wonder if I would like the ones from China . . .
More recently, I've come to realize that "Oreos" from real bakeries are nothing like the packaged cookie we've all come to love. They're better! Here's the lowdown on my opinions for some local (and not-so-local) chocolate sandwich cookies that I've tried recently.
First stop: Hi Rise Bread Company
Hi Rise is one of my all time favorite sandwich shops in Boston. They also make an absolutely heavenly vanilla loaf. The other day (while stopping by to pick up yet another vanilla loaf), I saw these cute little guys in the window.
Of course I had to get one . . or . . uhh, actually three (heh heh).
I love the smaller size of this cookie. It's much more manageable than a typical bakery cookie, which is often really huge! The cookie part is thick and chocolately - definitely made with butter! Unfortunately, the cream part was just a bit too sweet and sugary for my tastes. I was almost tempted to scrape off the white part, something I'd always done as a child with real Oreo cookies (which taste like pure sugar to me). Though it's still 10x better than a packaged Oreo cookie, I think I'll still stick with the vanilla loaf here.
Second Stop: Flour Bakery
The cookies at Flour are significantly bigger than the ones at Hi Rise. They are sized more like a typical cookie, about 3 inches in diameter. The chocolate cookie was very good, comparable to the one at Hi Rise. The cream, however, was more buttery and a little less sweet than the one at Hi Rise. I did not feel the need to scrape off the sugar of this one.
Overall, the Flour Oreo is a fine choice, and I wouldn't mind getting it again. The overall cookie is still sweet, so I'd probably order a nice cup of coffee to go with it.
Third Stop: Bouchon Bakery
There are only three Bouchon Bakeries in the world: Yountville, New York, and Las Vegas. Thomas Keller is the brains behind this delectable bakery. I have always loved the macarons at Bouchon. However, it was not until much later that I decided to try their oreos, which are called "TKO's" (Thomas Keller Oreos).
This, my friends, is the pinnacle of Oreo goodness. The cookies at Bouchon really reach a higher level of sophistication. Every single cookie is beautiful and perfectly formed, with precise fluted cookie edges and 6 flattened spheres of cream.
Fourth Stop: My Own Kitchen
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