It makes me sound like a total health nut but I love oatmeal. In my world, oatmeal is a comfort food on the order of mac n’ cheese. I realize that this might make some of you roll your eyes, but if it’s any consolation, I enjoy oatmeal in healthy and unhealthy forms. You can already see from my meal plans that I eat oatmeal almost every day for breakfast. I like it in toppings for a fruit crisp, in a crust for a savory or sweet tart, and of course, COOKIES!
When I was younger, my mom never bought the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, but you can bet that I traded for them whenever I could find an unsuspecting school mate daring enough to try my Asian snacks. (Dried Seaweed? Rice Crackers? I was popping wasabi peas as a third grader.) Last weekend, I decided to give a shot at making a home-made Oatmeal Cream Pies. I imagine like many of you, my first instinct is to go online and find some recipe inspiration from other bloggers. I found several variations and I relied mainly on one of my favorite dessert blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. After I donned my apron and put up my hair, I realized that I was out of brown sugar so I had to make some variations. I used regular granulated sugar and increased the molasses to accommodate. I also decreased the butter and sugar (that darn conscience!) and used vanilla bean in the cream filling rather than vanilla extract.
According to my girlies, who enjoyed these cream pies during an Oscar party, these were yummylicious. Why is it that these things were only part of our childhood? Would you be embarrassed to take some Little Debbie Cream Pies as part of your lunch to work? I’m betting you’ll be proud to share if you give a shot at these homemade ones. In fact, you might just be the cool kid instead.
OATMEAL CREAM PIES (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Makes 14-15 cream sandwiches
For the cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons dark molasses (I used blackstrap molasses)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats (or whole-rolled oats, that are pulsed in a food processor, this is what I used)
For the cream filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3-5 Tablespoons heavy cream (using anything with less fat will result in a much less creamy consistency)
Seeds from one fresh vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a hand mixer too), cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and creamy. Add egg, vanilla, and molasses, scraping down the sides as needed. Set aside.
In the bowl of the food processor, pulse the whole rolled oats 5-6 times to get a more delicate texture, but do not over process. You want smaller pieces, not a powder. The add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves and pulse 2-3 times to combine. If you are using quick oats, you don’t need to process the oatmeal, so in a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and whisk. Then add the quick oats and combine.
With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients. The dough will be quite thick and you may have to finish mixing it by hand with a rubber spatula.
Using a large spoon, form about 2 Tablespoons of dough into a ball and place on the cookie sheet, about 11/2 to 2 inches apart. The cookie dough spreads quite a bit during baking.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden around the edges. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies cool, make the cream filling. Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and the vanilla beans. If you are using vanilla extract, don’t add it yet. Beat the together with the butter on medium-high speed for another 1-2 minutes. Add the cream and the vanilla extract, if using. Beat all ingredients together for 3-4 minutes on high speed until the mixture is light and creamy. Taste for texture and additional cream as needed if the mixture is too thick.
Spread the cream filling on the bottom side of half of cookies. I usually do this thinly first for half of the cookies to make sure I have enough filling, then I go back and add more filling to finish up the filling.
Take the other half of the cookies, placing the bottom of the cookie on top of the filling to make your little sandwiches!
Cookies will stay fresh and soft (with cream filling) at room temperature for 2 days in an airtight container. After that, store the cookies in the refrigerator to keep the cream center fresh. These are best eaten within 2 days, but I’ve frozen them for about a week and they were fine.