Oatmeal Cream Pies

What does one do when one has a diabolical dual craving for both oatmeal cookies and buttercream frosting? First, one engages in any activity that causes muscles to burn and sweat to drip for several hours, in anticipation of massive caloric intake. Then, one makes Oatmeal Cream Pies! I know they sell these in convenience stores and vending machines, but they are SO much better fresh, and you can alter the flavors (and the size) as you like.

First, I made the cookies. This is a basic oatmeal cookie recipe that I've modified in a few small ways. First, I've recently discovered the joy of baking with butter flavored Crisco. It imparts both a wonderful butter flavor AND a lovely chewiness to cookies. Using butter always left me with great flavor but too much crispiness, and using plain Crisco yielded chewy goodness, but really blah flavor. Second, I have also recently discovered the wonders of a Turkish spice called Mahlab. It's actually the pit of a sour cherry, and it lends the most glorious sweet/sour nutty flavor to anything you like. It's wonderful in cakes and cookies, but I also added it to jambalaya once with surprisingly marvelous results. I bought mine from Penzey's. You don't have to use it in this recipe, of course—any or no spice will do fine.

You will need:
1 stick of butter flavored Crisco
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I use vanilla paste, but whatever you have on hand is fine)
2 eggs
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups oatmeal
1 tsp mahlab or spice of your choice—cinnamon is always nice too

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and Crisco. Then add the vanilla and eggs one at a time, blending well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda, and add the dry mixture to the wet eggy mixture slowly, blending with your mixer, so as to avoid a giant cloud of flour flying into your face. I did that once, and I don't find the Kabuki look very flattering OR comfortable.

I promise, it gets uglier before it gets better.
Now, if you're using mahlab, you need to crush up those little pits in your handy mortar and pestle to avoid teeth breakage later on. If, unlike me, you are not struggling to overcome any latent Luddite tendencies, you can use a spice grinder. If you insist.

Now add the mahlab and the oatmeal to your dough. Blend or stir until it's fully combined.

Do you see what I meant about it getting uglier? I will never understand why people crave cookie dough. But of course, I had to test this batch before I baked it…Quality Control is Very Important, people!
Now you must chill the dough for a few hours before you bake it. Go watch Top Chef and stew over the fact that you'll never look like Padma Lakshmi if you eat these Oatmeal Cream Pies we're making. I like to roll the dough up in parchment paper before I chill it so that I can just slice it when it's ready, but that's your call.
Now, preheat your oven to 350. Take the dough out and slice away. Mine got a little oval shaped, but that's ok. It'll still taste good. Note my silpat baking sheets. I love my Silpat. They save me from so much scrubbing.

Bake for about 10 minutes, and take them out when lightly golden brown.

Now, while your cookies are cooling, you can make the buttercream frosting that you will then sandwich between them in a happy little menage a trois. I'm sorry. My silpats made me say that-they're French, you know. I made this batch of frosting orange flavored because I thought it would nicely cut the sweetness a bit. I was right! But you can make it any flavor you like.
For the buttercream, you need the following:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 stick butter flavored Crisco
1 tsp flavoring-I used vanilla and orange for this batch
1 lb confectioner's sugar
3 tbsp very cold milk

Cream the butter and Crisco until well combined, and then add the flavoring. Gradually add the sugar, blending as you go, until it's all in there. The frosting will be a bit stiff. That's what the milk is for! Add a tsp of milk at a time, and blend. Continue until the frosting is your desired consistency. You can make it as thick or as runny as you want. Because we're not frosting a cake, and we want this frosting to make a nice thick sandwich with the cookies, I recommend keeping it hearty and stiff for this time around, though.

Now you're done with the nuts and bolts—it's time to assemble.
Take two similarly sized cookies and turn them upside down.
Now take a healthy dollop of frosting and spread it on one cookie.
Pay attention, this is the hard part. Take the unfrosted cookie and place it over top of the frosted one, forming a Sandwich. It should look something like this.
Now, whatever you do, do not eat this. It's horribly unhealthy and will make your thighs double in size. No, no, I said don't…don't do it…put those cookies down!!
Ah, well. Back to the Stairmaster.

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