Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ropa Vieja Tacos

Perhaps the coolest food-based tale ever comes from the amazing, over 500 year old history of Ropa Vieja. The story goes that a poor man had nothing left but his old beaten-up clothes, so he threw them in a pot and cooked them to feed his family. Miraculous, his love turned the unorthodox dish into a delicious stew.

Sadly despite my Cuban ancestry, I have not experienced much of this dish (aside from at El Rey Taqueria in Houston), so I had been wanting to to make some ever since I got my Cuban cookbook.  Following some pretty grueling work weeks for me and Robin, and the brilliant decision to work from home for the day (coding truly is a wonderful profession), I knew it was time to fill our stomachs with this dish based on love.

Ropa Vieja Tacos
Adapted from The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Pelaez and Ellen Silverman
Time: 2.5 hours
Servings: ~8-12 tacos
Perfect blend of my cultures and spices

Braised Beef
Vegetable or canola oil
1.5 lbs flank steak, quartered
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1/2 red cabbage, quartered
2 sprigs fresh mint
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cloves
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
Braised but not yet done

Ropa Vieja
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of cloves
1 1/4 cups tomato puree
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/2-1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
Cilantro to garnish
Queso fresco to garnish
Jalapeños, chopped to garnish

  1. Brown all sides of the flank steak in a large pot over medium-high heat with a small amount of vegetable oil.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, red cabbage, mint, garlic, salt, black pepper, allspice, cloves, cayenne, water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Then cook covered for 1.5-2 hours under tender enough to shred. Reserve 1/2 cup of the broth for the ropa vieja.
  3. Let the steak cool in the broth until it can be shredded. Start preparing the ropa vieja (below) while you wait to shred the beef. If you have a long wait before the ropa vieja is ready for the shredded beef then store it in some broth to maintain juiciness. 
  4. Prepare the ropa vieja by first sautéing the onion and bell pepper in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until tender and translucent (6-8 minutes). 
  5. Crush the garlic together with the salt, pepper, allspice, cloves, and cayenne until a paste forms.
  6. Add the paste to the skillet and coat the veggies. Cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant.
  7. Mix in the tomato puree, reserved broth, white wine, and bay leaf. Bring to a light simmer.
  8. Stir in the shredded beef and cook covered on low for 15-20 minutes. 
  9. Evenly mix in the roasted red peppers then prepare for greatness.
  10. Make tacos by topping the ropa vieja with cilantro, queso fresco, jalapeños, and lime juice. Both corn and flour tortillas taste great with this, but flour or two stacked corn tortillas may be the best option since they will help absorb all that flavorful juice.
Also feel free to serve on top of rice because this tasty dish works with anything.
With apologies to the former champ, Dr. Pepper Braised Brisket Tacos, these Ropa Vieja Tacos quickly usurped the top spot in my taco power rankings. This was the perfect union of everything I love about Cuban, Cajun, and Mexican cooking as the Cuban flavors were empowered by the added spice to yield some of the most insanely juicy and delicious filling a tortilla was ever lucky enough to receive. The tomato, peppers, and spices led to some of the most unique and succulent beef I have ever made, while the decision to convert it to a taco added another layer of comfort to this ultimate comfort food. I really should work from home more often.

I want to go to there.

The Crawfish Boil: The Main Event

Once Spring comes around and Saints football and Mardi Gras have ended, the good people of Louisiana have to find something new to fill their weekends, and that something is typically attempting to eat your own weight (or usually at least 5 lbs per person) in delicious crawfish during the day-long gloriousness of a crawfish boil. It's not just about the star of the show, though, as all the wonderful veggies invited along to soak up all that marvelous spice can be just as big of an attraction for some folks as the mudbugs themselves. Hell, these feasts are so important to the culture that it's practically a rite of passage when kids back home finally perfect their peeling technique. So long as everyone is having a good time and the beer is flowing as freely as good conversations, there just might not be a wrong way to do a boil.

With the crack team I had assembled featuring crab boil master Jaime, kitchen rockstar Kevin, crawfish wrangler Dennis, official beer getter and Dennis whisperer Jackie, fellow Louisiana native (and closet crawfish hater) Brandon, guacamole master Laura, and the ready to let the babysitter handle things for the night power couple of Sacha and Maconda, our crawfish boil was sure to be one for the ages.

Crawfish Boil
Time: About 2 beers
Servings:  ~ 6-10 people

Still healthy at this point

Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Boil (about 1.5 16 oz. bags per round)
30+ lbs crawfish, live and rinsed well
Garlic, whole
Onions, halved
Brussels Sprouts
Green bell peppers, halved
Mounds of mushrooms
Celery, chopped in half
Red potatoes
Corn on the cob
Lemons, halved

All the inner boiled goodness will absorb a lot of the water, so make sure you have enough.

  1. Probably ask someone who has done this a few more times how to do it and skip the rest of the steps.
  2. Successfully purchase a massive bag of crawfish and manage to keep them alive until ready to boil (ice chest).
  3. Don't worry at all about being precise and crack open a beer.
  4. Season water with salt, pepper, cayenne, and Zatarain's in a large stockpot over a propane flame. The water should cover reach about halfway up the pot. It needs room for all the goodies that will be dropped in but also needs be enough for when the crawfish are added and absorb a good amount of the water. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the potatoes, garlic, onion, Brussels Sprouts, mushrooms, lemon, celery, and potatoes. by eyeballing how much you want. Return to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. 
  6. Pour in the crawfish, return to boil then turn off the flame and let sit for 15 minutes. 
  7. Remove the crawfish and start the next batch. Re-season and add additional water as needed. Subsequent batches will be spicier.
  8. Attempt to eat your weight in crawfish.
A very small portion of all the peeled deliciousness.
Again, the most important part of the crawfish boil is to have fun, and we sure did. Catching up while waiting for the suckers to boil was just as great as eating the finished product. These crawfish were absolutely bursting with the wonderful New Orleans heat and flavors (making sucking the heads and claws a must) that I've found to be lacking when I've bought crawfish elsewhere. Those flavors came through just as lip-scorching amazingly in the veggies, with the last minute Brussels sprouts being the surprise winner. Combined with the creamy nirvana of our Jambalaya and some choice sides, it was a night that our mouths and waist lines would not soon forget.

Dennis modeling with his new best friend while Jackie practices the drink running abilities she would later perfect at my wedding.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Crawfish Boil: Jambalaya

Prior to the wedding extravaganza, I found myself back in the two states that I have spent most of my life in- Louisiana and Texas. It was a bittersweet trip back as it started with my grandmother's funeral, but it was also a great chance to reflect on the awesome life she led. A tremendous part of that life was keeping her family happy and together with some truly amazing cooking. From the world's most spectacular okra gumbo to a chicken stew that the English language does not have words to adequately describe, everything she made was utter comfort and perfection. So, when I found myself back in Houston later that week, I decided to honor her memory with some great Louisiana cooking that would've made her and her famous Sunday dinners proud.

Adapted from Emeril
Servings: 8-10
Time: 45 minutes

It felt good to be doing prep in Kevin's kitchen again.
24 shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
12 oz Andouille sausage, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, choppped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 small tomatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco to taste
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
5-6 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp Tony Chachere's Seasoning (at least but you'll want more)
At first, it will appear to be soup. Do not be concerned. Continue drinking beer whilst it gets deliciously absorbed.
  1. Sauté the sausage, onion, and green bell peppers together in a large pot over medium heat until the onion is tender and translucent. 
  2. Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, and tabasco. Let cook for another minute.
  3. Add in the rice, and slowly pour in the broth. Start with 4 cups. Stir occasionally and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Add additional liquid until it the rice reaches the desired tenderness and consistency.
  4. Mix in the shrimp and let cook until orange and finished (3-5 minutes).
  5. Decide you can't wait to get a fork and start dipping tortilla chips in the pot until people start looking at you funny then join in.
The final delicious, risotto-y goodness.
This jambalaya was unbelievably delicious. Somehow, despite not trying to replicate my personal favorite Jambalaya Risotto, I managed to make a similarly creamy Cajun treat. This was less tomatoey than the typical jambalaya, but all those great Cajun spices and flavor really came through. People were seriously just dipping tortilla chips into the pot after a while because it was so good. This definitely would've made Maw-Maw and the family smile. But, no matter how hard I try,  I'm still not sure if I can ever live up to the legendary meals she crafted.

Stay tuned for the main event of the evening- the crawfish!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Wedding and Honeymoon Spectacular: Homemade Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Olive Oil

Getting married is pretty awesome. Aside from the whole getting to spend the rest of your life with your favorite person, it also comes with tons of awesome kitchen gadgets for free!
Yeah, the wedding was kind of perfect.

Following a truly epic wedding featuring some of the best food and greatest dance moves of my life, Robin and I embarked on a perfect relaxing and delicious honeymoon in Napa. Sadly, we were forced to eventually return to work and the real world, but this weekend we decided to at least briefly relive the awesomeness by busting out our shiny new KitchenAid Pasta Maker and uncorking a bottle from our favorite winery of the trip- Silver Trident (Seriously, the food pairing, wine tasting, and people were so amazing that we joined the Wine Club).

Egg Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and Olive Oil
Recipe from Serious Eats
Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 4

10 oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 whole large eggs
4 yolks from large eggs
1 tsp salt
Water, if necessary

Whole tomatoes
4-6 cloves garlic, whole
Basil, chopped
Olive Oil
Pecorino cheese, grated

I'm amazed that something so tasty could come from something so simple.
  1. Get married and receive lots of cool wedding kitchen gifts like a pasta maker. 
  2. Open a bottle of your tastiest red wine and get ready for some fun.
  3. Roast the tomatoes and garlic in the oven at 425 F for 30-60 minutes until roasted to your liking.
  4. I highly recommend reading the full Serious Eats article and the accompanying experimental pasta making article for a far better description of how everything should look than I will ever be able to give.
  5. Pour flour into a large mound on a clean work surface. Make a large well in the center and fill it with the eggs, yolks, and salt. 
  6. Beat the egg components together well with a fork. Then slowly combine with the flour until a sticky dough begins to form.
  7. Use a bench knife to scrape excess dough and fold additional flour into the dough until a dry ball begins to form (2-5 minutes).
  8. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand, rotating 45 degrees each time. Continue until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). If the dough is too wet, add extra flour 1 tsp at a time, or if it is too dry, lightly mist it with water.
    Our ball of pasta dough after Robin demonstrated her master kneading technique.
  9. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
  10. Cut the dough into 4 quarters, keeping unused portions wrapped until they are ready.
  11. Roll the dough out onto lightly floured parchment paper into an oblong shape ~1/2 inch thick.
  12. Place the pasta maker on its widest setting and pass the dough through 3 times.
    Pasta Maker!
  13. Fold the ends of the dough in so they meet, then fold the dough in half at the point where they touch. Roll back to 1/2 inch thick and pass through at the widest setting again 3 times.
    Pretend you're making the tastiest but least exciting origami
  14. Repeat the folding step, pass through the next smaller setting 3 times, and repeat as necessary until you reach the desired thickness (we stopped at setting 4). If the dough gets holes in it, just repeat the folding and run it through the setting again.
  15. Repeat with the remaining quarters. Be sure to cover the stretched out pasta with parchment paper to prevent it from drying out. 
    Robin made the perfect looking noodle up top, while I made the special, lovable one below...
  16. Pass the dough through a pasta cutter if desired. This cut pasta is much trickier to catch. Lightly dust the pasta with flour and roll into nests.
  17. Boil in salted water with a touch of olive oil for 60-90 seconds.
  18. Drain the pasta and serve with the roasted tomatoes, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, basil, and cheese.
  19. Refill wine glass as needed.
The finished product. It somehow tasted even better than it looks.
Everything about this meal perfectly transported us back to the complete and total utter bliss of the honeymoon. Making pasta by itself is a whole lot of fun. While there may be a lot of steps, none of them are all that complicated, and the results speak for themselves. The egg-packed noodles were full of flavor on their own and had an amazing texture. Robin's decision to top them with simple roasted tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, and cheese (with Pecorino providing a nice bolder alternative to parmesan) instead of a complex sauce was truly inspired. The result was a light and refreshing dish that I could've spent the entire weekend eating. Our bottle of Silver Trident's Playing with Fire red blend was the perfect compliment to our pasta and made us even more excited for an anniversary to finally get here so we can travel back to Napa.
The perfect companion to our pasta- Silver Trident's Playing with Fire Red Wine Blend
Like I said, it was perfect. You can check at more at the amazing photographer's blog.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

S'mores Cookies

With fall rolling along and a new set of people to try to impress with my baking skills (my new front end engineering classmates), it was time to head back in the kitchen and bake like crazy. Thanks to a brief break from our hectic coding schedules on Thursday, I was able to generate insane amounts of sugar to compliment all the caffeine we were ingesting to help us all work on our tachycardias.

Would my decision to forgo the traditional autumnal pumpkin spice pay off, or would my new computer savvy classmates call me a n00b and write me off?

S'mores Cookies
Adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: 28-36 cookies
Time: 5 hours (inactive for 4)
So much goodness 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour,
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 5-6 full sized)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 heaping cup miniature marshmallows
1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips
Additional milk chocolate and marshmallows for topping (optional)

Have you ever thought to yourself "There's now possible way cookie dough could be any better."? Well you were wrong.
  1. Whisk the flour, graham cracker, baking soda, and salt together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and both sugars together in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes at medium speed). Be sure to scrape down the sides halfway through.
  3. Add in the egg, honey, and vanilla until well combined. 
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in with the butter until the cookie dough forms. 
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows until evenly distributed. 
  6. Roll the dough into a large ball, wrap tightly in saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. 
  7. Feel like a kid on Christmas eve as you wait for those four hours to pass.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325 F. 
  9. Roll up the dough into ~ 1-2 tbsp sized balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper about one inch apart. Be careful not to have too much marshmallow per ball as this can lead to some weird looking cookies once the marshmallows melt.
  10. Bake for 14-18 minutes until the edges start to set and the cookies brown.
  11. Keep on the baking sheet and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer them to the wire racks directly to finish cooling.
  12. If you wish, top with melted milk chocolate chips (microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time until smooth) and a marshmallow. Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
I highly recommend the super s'mores variety for minimal extra effort.
There was so much to love about these cookies, which I will place firmly toward the top of all cookies that I have made. The cookie base itself is a hybrid of s'mores and the classic Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe with graham cracker crumbs taking the place of some of the flour and marshmallows fighting the chocolate chips for interior real estate. Speaking of the marshmallows, aside from adding some amazing gooeyness, they also caramelized nicely in the oven leading to additional unexpected deliciousness (but do be careful not to have too many marshmallows per cookie or they will look like a mess). While I made two versions, one with additional s'mores topping and one without, I would definitely recommend really hammering home all the campfire appeal with the additional toppings. Without much extra effort from making standard chocolate chip cookies (I know melting chocolate in the microwave seems pretty taxing), you can produce a treat that holds its own against just about anything else and brings you back to your childhood.

Hiding the non chocolate covered ones on the bottom.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Search for the Perfect Biscuit: Cheddar Green Onion Buttermilk

Living in the South means constantly being in search of the holy grail of biscuits. While I was hoping to run an experiment similar to the Oreo frosting permutations, I was seemingly at a loss for what aspect to vary in a biscuit. Everyone knows buttermilk biscuits are the best, so it would be fruitless to test with and without it. In the end, I decided on a much more subtle yet important factor in the make-up of a biscuit- the flour.

Would normal, run-of-the-mill all-purpose flour prove to be the most versatile and best or would the lighter White Lilly flour prove advantageous? Or would any of it matter so long as I ended up with a belly full of biscuits?

Cheddar Green Onion Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
Servings: 10-12 biscuits
Time: 45 minutes
The only prep pic I took. Note the light White Lily!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for topping
1 egg
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, chopped into small cubes
3 tbsp green onion, diced
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
Coarse sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together.
  4. In yet another bowl, toss the cheese and green onions together. 
  5. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
  6. Stir in the cheese mixture.
  7. Create a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk mix.
  8. Toss the flour mixture together until the dough comes together. 
  9. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes then form a 1 1/2 inch thick circle. 
  10. Cut the dough into circles then put place them onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 
  11. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  12. Forget to take any pictures of the actual dough. 
The White Lily Biscuits. Note: all the extra burnt cheddar around the edges was already in my belly.
The difference between the two was readily apparent from the dough itself. The White Lilly produced a far more moist dough that had to have extra flour added just to be manageable, while the all-purpose flour was almost too dry. Since this wasn't a strictly controlled experiment and I was looking for a workable dough, the end results were pretty similar.
The all-purpose flour biscuits that were more porous thanks to having to add more buttermilk.
Both biscuits had great cheddar flavor (especially the burnt bits that I removed to at least make my pictures semi pretty) balanced nicely by the green onion (fyi: the original recipe calls for chives). The biscuits were light and bouncy and held surprisingly well as the week went along, but they did not approach the greatest biscuit ever. These were ideally suited for dipping into soup or gravy, but, on their own, they were a little lacking likely from their height deficiency (a problem I am all too familiar with). While this mini-experiment may not have produced any real results, it did at least set me on the path for my next biscuit challenge- varying baking soda/baking powder to achieve the best results for either standard biscuits or breakfast sandwiches. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oreos and the Grand Rheological Study of Frosting

Recently, after talking to a friend, I was left wondering what I would sell if I could market any of my crafty confectionary crafts. As difficult as this may be to believe, my favorite treats to bake are Whoopie Pies and not Cupcakes, so I started pondering just how viable of a product they could be. While I think the flavor is top notch (especially the coffee version), they do have a tragic flaw in that the filling is far too soft for longevity and transport outside of being nearly constantly refrigerated. Clearly, the best way to approach this would be a comprehensive scientific experiment comparing how various filling respond to stress, shear, and warmth. Or I could just make two different ones, eat a bunch of cookies, and let my stomach brain decide.

Chocolate, sugar, and butter. Yes please.
Adapted from Flour owner Joanne Chang
Servings: ~ 20-25 oreos
Time: 4 hours (inactive for 3)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
Fluffy buttercream
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
Pinch of salt

Your log of dough presented without further comment...
  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until combined. Then whisk in the vanilla and melted chocolate. Stir in the egg until fully incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mix with a wooden spoon until a thick dough forms. 
  4. Realize you forgot to add half of the butter, hastily add the rest, and pray to God it doesn't affect the final results, but vow to not let your readers make the same mistake by actually writing how many sticks it is...
  5. Cover and set aside for 1 hour at room temp until firm.
  6. Put the dough on a long sheet of parchment paper and roll it out into a rough log approximately 10" long by 2.5" in diameter. 
  7. Laugh at what your rough log looks like because you are an adult.
  8. Put the log at one of the edges of the parchment paper. Then roll it up and into a nicer log fully covered by the parchment paper.
  9. Refrigerate for 2 hours. You may need to re-roll it every 15-20 minutes or so to maintain its shape. I highly recommend you just be lazy and roll the dice. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  11. Cut the dough into 1/4" thick pieces. Then place the slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and space them ~ 1" apart.
  12. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Take them out when they are firm when touched in the center. Let them cool on the cookie sheets so they firm up slightly more. Be careful not to overbake them. 
  13. Make the filling by beating the butter on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 30 seconds. Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk and salt until you have a somewhat thick yet spreadable mixture.
  14. Put ~ 1 tbsp of filling in between two fairly consistently shaped cookies and make your cookie sandwich.
  15. Prepare the other filling 
They look so lonely without the cream filling.
Let's start with discussion of the cookies. These were super tasty Oreo substitutes that were definitely worth the effort. I did find them to be a little salty, but that could be a major plus for those who are super into the whole salty-sweet combo (or you could drop the salt to 1/2 tsp if that's not your thing). The chocolate really came through, and the resulting taste was a beautiful mix of brownie and traditional Oreo. Structurally, the cookies highly resembled their Oreo counterparts, so be careful as they may be somewhat brittle if you try to break them or cut them up. The accompanying crunch was just begging to be counterbalanced by delicious creamy filling, and fortunately, we had two options.

Oreo Filling
Also the world's most delicious caulk.
From King Arthur Flour
Servings: just barely enough
Time: 5 minutes

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cold water, or enough to bring the filling together

  1. Beat together the sugar, shortening, salt, and vanilla until you have large dry crumbs. 
  2. Add the water and beat until stiff but spreadable. 
  3. This is best used by first rolling into a ball and then smushing between two cookies. 
Traditional Oreo filling that is resistive to the elements

The much fluffier and sweeter buttercream counterpart
Each filling presented its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The buttercream filling from Flour was by far the sweeter and tastier of the two, which worked wonders with the aforementioned salty cookie. However, it was still like any other buttercream and would likely not respond to warmth as well, although it did handle being out in room temp for an entire work day pretty well (and much better than my usual cream cheese based ones would have). On the other hand, the more traditional, shortening based Oreo filling was an almost exact rendering of the product we all know and love. It was essentially a brick wall when it came to heat and force to deliver the best prospects for future sales. Unfortunately, it was the clear loser in the taste department (although still quite good) as the buttercreams disappeared far more rapidly. With some tinkering, though, I think this could be exactly what I was looking for. Perhaps some hybridization of the two would provide exactly the balance I seek, or maybe some additional flavors being incorporated could sweeten things up just the right amount. Despite some remaining questions, this was a rare experiment where everyone came out a winner.