Sometimes I wish that someone had been taking the minutes of my life. Writing down the crucial conversations I’ve had with my mom over the last 25 years. I guess I just don’t want to forget any dialogue that could potentially be of use to me in my future, when I give birth to donut holes…baby donuts…munchkins, right, that’s the word.
I can’t wait to use those classic parent lines. The ones like, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” Only I hope my daughter doesn’t respond like I did. “Well, so long as they’re harnessed and secured with high durability bungee cords, I don’t see why not. In fact, I just saw an episode of Road Ru–”
My poor mother. But maybe it’s beneficial to me that I was such a wiseacre. I’ll at least be prepared to fire back to any smart aleck remarks with more reasonable arguments.
“No, we can’t eat cake for breakfast. Cake is for lunch.” Or “Listen Punky Brewster, you know why you have to do your homework? Because Department of Social Services is already pretty skeptical of me for filling nearly everything edible with vanilla buttercream, and you don’t want to go to juvie.”
I’m not even nervous about broaching the birds and the bees. That’s what chastity belts are for.
See? I’ve already got quite the repertoire of responses. The kids don’t stand a chance. And fortunately, if anything goes awry, and for some unknown reason my arguments fail me, I’ve got a plan B.
Oatmeal Cream Pies. End of discussion. Go to your room. (But take one of these on a small plate before you go. Oh- and a glass of milk. I care about calcium).
Oatmeal Cream Pies are a staple from my childhood. The softest, gooey-est oatmeal spice cookie, smeared and sandwiched with a slightly gritty, and outrageously sweet vanilla frosting. Thinking of them now makes my mouth water. And my heart race.
These sugary sandwiches are magic. Pure, hocus-pocus-type, get me a glittery wand, magic. The cookie itself is my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe- extremely chewy, generously spiced, and studded with plump dried cherries, shards of dark chocolate, and toasted pecans. How sophisticated of me. The use of dark brown sugar gives them not only that desired moistness, but a striking depth of flavor- a rich molasses-like taste. A ten on the taste/texture spectrum. And the filling? My classic vanilla buttercream.
The key is to underbake the cookies. I know, when have I ever baked a cookie to complete done-ness? Never, but especially not here. You don’t want a cookie that requires a firm bite that will smoosh all of the cream filling out the sides. Or do you?
Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cherries (recipe from Cooks Illustrated, my favorite baking companion)
(Makes 16, 3″ cookies)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped (or use dried cranberries)
- 4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped in chunks roughly the size of choc chips (about 3/4 cup)
- 12 TBSP unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
- 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, stir together oats, pecans, cherries, and chocolate.
- In standing mixer, or using a hand-held mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 min. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, about 30 secs. Scrape down bowl; with mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just combined, about 30 secs. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oat/nut mixture; mix until just incorporated. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Divide dough evenly into 16 portions, about ¼ cup, then roll between palms into balls about 2 inches in diameter; stagger 8 balls per baking sheet, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using hands, gently press each dough ball to 1 inch thickness. Bake each baking sheet 11 minutes, rotate them front to back and top to bottom, then continue to bake until cookies are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will seem underdone and will appear raw, wet, and shiny in cracks), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Do not overbake.
- Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire rack 5 minutes; then transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.
Basic Vanilla Buttercream
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- up to 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy (about 1 min).
- Gradually beat in the sugar, one cup at a time, alternately adding tablespoonfuls of the milk.
- Beat in the vanilla
- Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add more or less milk if you desire a thinner/thicker consistency.
To assemble the oatmeal cream pies: Once the cookies are cooled completely, spread 2 TBSP buttercream on the underside of one cookie. Top with another cookie and smoosh lightly to spread the cream to the outer edges of the sandwich. Enjoy!