Vintage Recipe: Oreo Cream Pie

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

-I love how 1970's that photo is. Who want's to bet that the whipped cream is actually shaving cream?-

So a few weeks ago I was moderating a panel at BlogHer discussing the topic of vintage food, its value, and how to modernize it. Sounds nebulous, no? The best designers in the world can barely agree on whether a brass, claw footed lamp is, “Holy shit, that’s awesome!” or, “Holy shit, let’s burn it.” How then are food writers supposed to come to agreement on a jell-o salad? Cool or cliché? The term vintage is about to breathlessly collapse like a starving model due to running between every individual’s idea of what it is.

This isn’t to take into consideration the various aspects of vintage food that bloggers may want to consider: Does it affect SEO? Does blogging vintage food make you boring? Does tweaking or modernizing something make you a sellout or just creative? Do advertisers want to see retro or revamp?

It was a rather ornery beast to wrangle within 75 minutes and I’m not sure that I and the two distinguished panelists I got to work with were able to give a lot of answers except that there is intrinsic value in vintage.

Heck, we couldn’t really even agree on a definition of vintage due to the very subjective nature of the subject.

-Instagram, I gotta hand it to you on making vintage-style pics.-

So, then, allow me to provide you a situation to consider:

When I went to China I met a woman in the Hutongs of Beijing. She was a darling girl and a Cultural Ambassador for the city. Her duties entailed meeting foreigners and discussing her personal history, her life in the Hutongs, enlightening us to the Beijing culture, and nourishing visitors with her own home cooking. I was lucky enough to taste one of these meals and detailed it online. In addition, I provided a greater context for Beijing-style cuisine, which is that it’s one of convenience and economy and that baking is practically non-existent (to insultingly break it down into one sentence). This is because the typical Chinese home does not have an oven of any kind as baking is probably the most energy inefficient way of cooking when compared to almost any other method.

The meal - at least, as I saw it - was incredibly authentic and quite vintage in that she had learned it from her own grandmother.

When I shared the information she gave me on a website I was working for the first e-mail I received was one stating that a few of these dishes were not authentic Chinese cuisine. Obviously, or so this reader said, they were classic and centuries old Vietnamese dishes that had been modernized a few hundred years ago by Vietnamese immigrants who moved to China.

So then, was the recipe vintage Chinese or revamped Vietnamese?

-Or is it Ancient Hmong or Modern Laotian?-

As for the baking? Well, baking does exist in Beijing-style cuisine. However, that’s only if there is a community oven available or if you’re rather wealthy. The bulk of Beijing’s citizenry do not have access to a community oven, do not have their own, and are middle class at best. Some purchase toaster ovens, but even that is rare. Most baked goods are prepared at restaurants. So, for the average Beijing home cook there is little to no baking occurring in his or her kitchen.

So as we can see the term vintage is hard to pin down for a number of reasons.

So what’s my definition of a vintage recipe? Probably these recipe cards of that my grandmother on my mother’s side, Sybil Capune, put together. Yellowed cards with recipes from magazine and boxes clipped and adhered with the universe’s most age-resistant glue, or recipes from her friends or of her own creation handwritten in her antiquated and tight script. Some I have no idea if she tested or used. The only promises therein are ones with stains or where the clipped recipes have notes or annotations.

You’ve seen some of her recipes on this site before. Her banana cookie recipe is rather famous now, actually.

Still, one of my favorites is this one. Oreo cream pie. It’s originally Nabisco’s recipe, but I consider it mine. Grandma used it sparingly and my mom used it for almost every Christmas and Thanksgiving. It’s kitschy and uses only butter, Oreos, cream, milk, and marshmallows. It’s pretty much one of the most unhealthiest and over-processed foods in existence. If Kate Moss were to so much as look at it she would stroke right the f*** out.

-I'm not sure why I'm focusing on models. Probably because eating this certainly won't help me become one.-

Can’t say I care, though. There’s too much memory wrapped up in this recipe for me. It tastes like my childhood on mornings the day after Thanksgiving when my brothers and I would sneak a piece for breakfast (only learning that mom and dad has very late seconds the night before after everyone had left or gone to bed). I think the Slow Food/Anti-GMO crowd will forgive me this one vintage recipe. It’s my heritage, after all; and there's simply no replacement for it.

Plus, don’t we all have something like this. A culinary anchor to our simpler days when days were spent running outside and the worst thing we feared from each other were cooties?

This Oreo cream pie is nothing but a fat-heavy sugar bomb. It tastes so good because of that. A wondrous, and floofy treat that will strike you smitten if not thrown into lust. You can almost feel your arteries screaming with every bite but that’s okay because the worship from your taste buds pretty much drowns that noise right out.

It’s not just a pie to me. It is THE PIE.

Plus, it’s so vintage and vintage is in right now. Good excuse as any, right?

Oreo Cream Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie

41 Oreo cookies
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
24 marshmallows
1/2 cup whole milk*
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Roughly chop 10 of the Oreos and set them aside. In a food processor or using a rolling pin finely grind the remaining Oreo cookies into a sandy consistency. Mix ground Oreos with the butter and press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.

2. In a 2 quart sauce pan place the marshmallows and milk. Place over medium heat and mix with a spatula until melted and smooth. Do not leave unattended as mixture can easily scorch. Take off heat.

3. Whisk the heavy whipping cream and vanilla together until it forms stiff peaks. Fold 2 cups of the whipped cream into the marshmallow mixture. Fold in the chopped Oreos. Spoon into the chilled pie crust. Chill for 4 hours. Pipe on remaining whipped cream and add extra Oreos for garnish if desired before serving.

*You can use skim, but, really, why? You're already melting marshmallows with it so the healthy option is long gone.


  1. I thought that I loved you before for all the great recipes and the baby goats, but now I love you even more because you actually used the word "floofy" to describe a dessert! FLOOFY is probably my favorite all-purpose dessert word ever.
    My family's culinary anchor is jello cake, which in some circles is referred to as a "poke cake". A plain white boxed cake mix cake, cooled and poked, with concentrated jello poured into the holes and slathered in Cool Whip. My Mom only makes it for Christmas and no matter how many gorgeous, from-scratch desserts are on the table, everyone goes for the jello cake first and fights for the leftovers.

    1. That sounds terribly awesome.

    2. Poke cake was my ex-mother-in-law's favorite 'special occasion' dessert. I had totally forgotten about it until a co-worker brought it for our holiday dinner last year. Most of the younger staff members had never had it, and were rather appalled at the idea of jello poured over cake -- until they tasted it!

  2. My daughter is on an Oreo kick right now and she would freak for this! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oooh, this is perfect timing! I do themed dinners at my house and this next one is a mid-century food theme. I can make this pie! I was going to do deviled eggs, and pigs in a blanket, only dress them up a bit. I'd rather make pie. :)

    1. Then this should hit the spot. It's also crazy easy. =)

  4. A few Christmases ago, my mother gave me the most amazing gift - she, along with my grandmothers and aunts, had compiled a cookbook of their favorite (and handwritten!) recipes. Most are "vintage" and some of the best things I've ever had. Sure, I swap out real butter for margarine, but for the most part these recipes from pre-1950 are sort of awesomely unpretentious and delicious. I'm all for vintage recipes - there's a reason that people still buy Julia Child and Junior League cookbooks.

  5. I love the idea of using recipes from old clippings. Last year, my husband and I helped clean out his grandparents' home. I found many of grandma's cookbooks and recipe clippings, which I took home. I haven't tried any of them yet though. This recipe is simple, might try it this weekend...but maybe substitute butter for the margarine.

    1. I use butter when I make it because I prefer it. It works just fine if not better.

  6. Apparently, I talked about my mom's Grasshopper Pie so often when I was first dating my husband, he tracked down a recipe and made me one even though he hates mint and chocolate together and I had to eat the whole pie myself. (It is very much like this one, with the addition of a healthy glug of Creme de Menthe.)

    I may have to make him one of these as payback. :)

    1. I've never had grasshopper pie. I should remedy that.

    2. It's good stuff. It was our traditional Christmas dessert.(We are a classy, classy family!)

  7. I love these old recipes. (notice I said old, not vintage in order to avoid sparking debate!)
    And you made me laugh out loud when you said Kate Moss would stroke out looking at this pie. That makes me feel so sorry for her because a life without oreo cream pie is not a life worth living.

  8. We have so many of these recipes. My most embarrassing is the cocktail meatball recipe made from frozen meatballs, chili sauce, grape jelly, brown sugar and lemon juice. It's a frequent request when I attend potlucks, but I cringe when people ask for the recipe.

    I'm definitely going to be making the oreo pie with my 8 year old!

  9. I too have a horrid non-PC dish that I love and make twice a year. Cherry Whipped Salad. Cherry pie filling, crushed drained pineapple, coconut, condensed milk, pecans,and yes CoolWhip, a substance I scorn the rest of the year, and would not allow in my kitchen. I love that this is called a salad, but it really is a dessert! You can't change your history, and sometimes you need to honor it through cooking.
    I have thought about trying to "fix" this, with whipped cream and real cherries, but you know, I like it the way it has always been.

  10. Vintage recipes, you say! I have a massive treasure trove of vintage recipes. When I got married (too many years ago to discuss, so let just say before you were born and leave it at that), my mom gave me about 30 of those little softcover cookbooks they used to give away at grocery stores when you bought certain items (yes, they really did do that, back in the day). It's truly amazing how many things can be covered in aspic. At the other end of the culinary scale, I am also the proud owner of an original copy of Charles Ranhofer's tome, The Epicurean. Lobster Bisque for 300 guests, anyone? If you're not aware of this book, it's the recipes from the entire bill of fare from the 1898 menu at Delmonico's. The chapter on frozen deserts absolutely makes me dizzy. I've never actually used any of the recipes, but some day, when I have lots of spare time, I'll try breaking down a few into realistic quantities.

    1. Hey there, nothing wrong with aspic. (I actually like it very much.)

  11. In my opinion, anything made with Oreo cookies is classic! I'll take mine without the shaving cream on top, though. ;)


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