Why The 1-2-3 Trick Doesn't Work For Copycat E.L. Fudge Cookies

If you're reading this article then you must be a fan of chocolaty, E.L. Fudge cookies, or at least Keebler cookie-curious. The classic, chocolate-filled sandwich cookies hold a fair amount of nostalgic appeal. The first E.L. Fudge cookies appeared on the snack food scene in 1986, although back then it wasn't even a sandwich cookie: Keebler's early version was a single, shortbread cookie shaped like an elf with a back coated in chocolate. The following year, Keebler debuted the sandwich cookie version, and that's the E.L. Fudge Elfwich that we have today.

Everyone (probably even Elves, deep down) knows that freshly-baked cookies are infinitely better tasting than shelf-stable, packaged cookies filled with preservatives. That's why it's so exciting to find this copycat E.L. Fudge recipe from award-winning "Bravetart" author and pastry chef Stella Parks, shared on Serious Eats.

Parks shares that Keebler's elf-shaped cookies are similar to shortbread. However, the standard ingredient ratio for shortbread cookies, one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour (or 1-2-3 method,) creates cookies that have a classic shortbread tenderness – delicious, but not the right texture. E.L. Fudge cookies are crisper, with a bite that nicely contrasts the soft, fudge filling. And Parks figured out how to achieve that texture.

The trick to getting cookies as crispy as E.L. Fudge cookies

In her article about recreating a Keebler E.L. Fudge cookie at home, chef Stella Parks explains that using less butter in the cookie dough is key to getting a crispy baked cookie. In baked goods, fats like butter create a more tender crumb; use less fat and the texture of the baked cookie will be crunchier. So where a typical shortbread cookie dough's sugar-butter-flour ratio would be 1-2-3, in Parks' cookie the ratios are closer to 1-1-2. The recipe also calls for milk, which makes the cookie dough easier to handle, easy to roll out, and gives the baked cookies some color.

Sandwich the cookies with Park's recipe for a fudgy filling, made with cocoa powder and real vanilla extract. Pipe one layer of the filling between two cookies – or for double-stuffed cookies, go with two layers of filling.

When bakers look at Parks' copycat E.L. Fudge cookies, they'll notice that they don't look like elves: They're owl-shaped! Parks shares that she had no elf cookie cutters on hand, but the owl cutter had the same dimensions of roughly 3x1 inches. Home bakers may be able to track down similarly-sized elf cookie cutters at kitchen stores or online. If not, they can just roll with whatever 3x1-inch cookie cutter is available, and name them as such: Everybody Loves Owls (ELOs) or Everybody Loves Rectangles (ELRs.) Whatever the shape, the fudge-filled sandwich cookies will still be sinfully delicious.