in search of lost time (or remembrance of cookies past)

I love nostalgia. I keep a big box of postcards, ticket stubs, theater programs, and other ephemera under my bed and each time I pack my stuff and move to a new place (as I did on Monday), I flip through the collection and indulge my inner sap. I often listen to oldies on the radio and get nostalgic for music that I listened to with my parents in the 90s because they were nostalgic for the 60s and the 70s. But the one kind of nostalgia to rule them all in my heart is food nostalgia. Let Proust have his madelines- I’ll take these oatmeal peanut better sandwich cookies with a filling that tastes exactly like those chocolate covered peanut butter wafers we used to eat at afternoon snack time at school and after tee-ball games in elementary school. I can’t remember the name for sure – I think they were called Nutty Bars – but I definitely remember the corn-syrup-infused-deliciousness.

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The best kind of food nostalgia is the unplanned kind. You can’t just set out to make a chocolate cake that tastes exactly like the one your mama made for your 6th birthday unless you just want to set yourself up for disappointment (#realtalk from your food blogger). I’ve tried that approach and I now know better. I chose this recipe not because I was craving the sweets of my younger years but because oatmeal with peanut butter and cinnamon is one of my favorite breakfasts and putting it into cookie form sounded like a way to make something great even greater. The communion with the junk food of my youth was totally serendipitous.

I usually get grouchy when cookie recipes tell me what size utensil to use to measure and shape my dough. I’ll make my cookies whatever size I feel like making them, thankyouverymuch control-freak recipe writer. But mismatched sandwich cookies are just awkward, so I recommend actually measuring out your dough into equally sized pieces in this instance. Please make an odd number of cookies so you can dip the odd cookie out into the extra filling while it’s still warm. Even if you don’t share my odd nostalgia for highly processed, chocolate covered snacks from the 90s, I hope you can indulge your inner 6-year-old with a chewy, substantial cookie and a glass of milk.

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Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

adapted from Joy the Baker

For the cookies:

1 stick butter, softened

1 c brown sugar

1 large egg

1 t vanilla

1 1/4 c uncooked quick oatmeal (the original recipe called for old fashioned oats, so I would wager that either kind will work)

1 c all-purpose flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1 t cinnamon

For the filling:

3 T butter, at room temperature

1/2 c smooth peanut butter

1 c powdered sugar

3-4 T milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Make the cookies: beat the brown sugar and butter until creamy, about 3-4 min with a hand mixer.  Add egg and beat on medium speed about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dries slowly to the butter mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Portion the dough with a teaspoon and roll each piece into a ball and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes until they just begin to brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling: place butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Mix on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you’ve reached an easily spreadable but still thick consistency.

When cookies are completely cool, flip them over and spread the flat sides of half of the cookies with peanut butter filling. Store in the refrigerator- they’re good served slightly chilled.

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