Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sometimes you just need a cookie...

Blogging and baking both seem to take a leap of faith. This has been a dream for a long time, and after a corporate downsizing (aka blessing in disguise) there has been no denying that it was time to make it a reality. I thought this was a great recipe to share on the eve of taking SPOON OF HEARTS live.  It made for a fun Sunday evening and lots of laughter while my husband and I smeared very uncooperative marshmallow creme on them.  That is what cooking is for me; a chance to spend time with loved ones, nourish our relationships, our appetites, and our sense of humor.

Thank you all so very much for your support, your enthusiasm, your willingness to taste a new recipe and learn new techniques.  Most of all, thank you for your patience as we make SPOON OF HEARTS true to our hearts, and a great place to mix up a little fun.

There's a special birthday tomorrow, and after looking at too many cake recipes, remembered that a friend made these and just the thought of them took me back to thoughts of childhood.  These treats were amazingly simple and taste heavenly. "Amazingly simple" doesn't mean that there weren't a few lessons to be learned along the way.  This blog is not just about recipes, it is about learning from trial and error so that you get a good chance to benefit from my kitchen mishaps, and enjoy the cookies!

Have you ever baked cookies and followed the directions exactly, only to have them come out too done on the bottom and barely brown on the top? I have been through too many oven thermometers to count, and was convinced that my oven was too hot or not hot enough.  Then, I read this...
PJ Hamel from FLOURISH (King Arthur Flour's Blog) does the research on how to get the best baked cookies by testing dark and light/shiny baking sheets, as well as greased vs. lined with parchment paper.  Don't miss a chance to read the entire post, as it is really interesting, but here's the best part as it applies to these cookies: your best chance for perfectly baked cookies is using light/shiny baking sheets, and lining them with parchment paper.  Seriously, it makes a huge difference.  Baking sheets lined with Silpats were my usual cookie baking habit.  After using parchment and my lighter, shinier baking sheets, I am completely converted.  PJ Hamel is my hero!

I know it seems counterintuitive to put paper in the oven, but trust me on this one - it makes all the difference.  Parchment paper is easy to find now, and sold in most grocery stores.  Look for it where you would find aluminum foil and plastic bags.

One last tip before you get started.  Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature for the best results.  When you are getting ready to mix everything up, take the eggs out of the refrigerator so that they are not cold when you add them to your softened butter.  This allows for a better mix and the best texture possible.

Now, let's get to what you came here for...the cookies!

1/2 Cup Butter (Softened to room temperature)
1/2 Cup Shortening (I used butter flavored shortening that comes in sticks)
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar (I like dark brown - always seems richer to me)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Molasses
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 Cups Quick Oats

Preheat the oven to 350

Cream the butter, shortening, sugars (brown and white) together using a mixer.  (If you are confident about your egg breaking skills, just break them right into the bowl.  If not, break them into a cup to make sure that no shells get into the mix) When they are pale and fluffy, add the molasses, vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Use a fork, or a wire whisk to combine and then add to the butter/egg mixture in 3 parts - mixing in between until well incorporated.  Lastly, add the oats.  Drop by teaspoon onto your parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.  If you question the baking time, always err on the side of under baking.

Helpful hints - I "rounded" the dropped dough on the parchment to make for a rounder finished cookie.  The first batch, I baked only 6 just to see how far they spread and gauge how many I could get on a baking sheet and make sure the baking time was right.  They will be golden and puffy when you remove them from the oven, but will darken and "crinkle" a bit as they cool.

Here's where you get to learn from our big cookie adventure. Memories of marshmallow creme filled my head as these baked, and my sweet husband helped me to fill each one with a heaping tablespoon of marshmallow creme.  Pressing both sides together until the creme came just to the edges.  We filled a heaping platter with them and they were gorgeous.  Which lasted all of about 5 minutes.  It turns out that too much marshmallow creme, pushed too far to the edge of the cookie allows the tops to slide off.  So, here is what I recommend:

Marshmallow Creme - put just under a tablespoon in the center of each cookie and top with another one.  Press the two sides together until the creme comes close to, but not all the way to the edge.  Don't stack them in more than 2 layers, or the weight of the cookies will press out the creme.

Canned Frosting - we just happened to have a can of cream cheese frosting in the cabinet and filled a few with it for variation.  Wow, it added a grown up twist to these that was really good.  There were not the problems with sliding on the frosting filled ones.

Combination - Mix your favorite canned frosting with marshmallow creme and you get the best of both tastes, and still less sliding.  What measurements?  Simple, start with 1 part frosting to 1 part marshmallow creme.  If you like one or the other better, add more or less to taste.

Homemade - If you are a purist and can not bring yourself to put any of the above options on these gorgeous oatmeal cookies, find your favorite homemade frosting recipe  and fill them with that.  I think that next time, I may fill a few with peanut butter just for fun!

This recipe makes about 20 cookie sandwiches.  I doubled it with no problems and yielded around 40.

I hope you get the chance to bake these with and/or for someone you love.  Let me know how it goes, and what kind of imaginative things you find to fill them with!


  1. These look wonderful. I enjoy reading P.J. Hamel's articles also. I've added you to my Feedly reader so I can see your future posts.

  2. Gina, Thank you so much! I am learning as I go, and it has been a fun journey. I actually had to send PJ a message and let her know how much I appreciate the research on baking. It has saved me so much time and effort. The Oatmeal creme cookies turned out beautifully and evenly baked, by baking on parchment instead of the silpats.
    Keep reading, and let me know if you have any suggestions.