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Oatmeal Creme Pies

Oatmeal Creme PiesIs there a better school day dessert than an Oatmeal Creme Pie? I mean, who can resist two super-soft cookies sandwiched together with marshmallow filling? Not me, that’s for sure. I haven’t been in school in eight years, and I still get hankerings for the Little Debbie treat.

While packaged Oatmeal Creme Pies are delicious, they are full of preservatives and ingredients I don’t recognize and cannot pronounce. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I can’t imagine putting one in their lunch boxes. But my feeling is that life is simply too short to live without such a delicious cookie, so instead of buying Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, I’ll just stick to making my own.

Oatmeal Creme PiesY’all, these homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies are so damn good. They have everything that makes the original version great (hello, insanely soft cookies and marshmallow filling!), without any of the sketchy ingredients. I’m not saying my Oatmeal Creme Pies are healthy (because they aren’t), but I know and can pronounce everything that’s in them. Oh, and they’re just as delicious as the original, if not more so. Homemade is always better.

Oatmeal Creme PiesLet’s talk about the cookies. They’re everything you want in an Oatmeal Creme Pie: insanely soft and almost cake-like, with a tender crumb and just enough oats to qualify them as an oatmeal cookie. The cookies are made with all dark brown sugar which, in addition to giving them a rich molasses flavor, keeps them soft for days.Oatmeal Creme Pies

Oatmeal Creme PiesAlso keeping these cookies soft? Quick oats. They’re used here instead of the usual old-fashioned oats. Their finer texture allows these cookies to retain that tender texture that I love about the original version. If you, like me, don’t keep quick oats on hand, I’ve included a conversion for regular old-fashioned oats in the recipe notes.

A word of warning: unlike most of my cookie recipes, this one is formulated to spread. Make sure to leave plenty of room around each ball of dough. Despite the spreading though, these cookies will not get crispy in any way.Oatmeal Creme Pies

Oatmeal Creme PiesEnough about the cookies–the marshmallow filling is where it’s at! It’s made with marshmallow fluff, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and shortening. If shortening is not for you, feel free to use softened butter instead. Either way, you’ll end up with a soft, luxurious filling that, in addition to being crazy delicious, will keep your Oatmeal Creme Pies soft for days on end!

Oatmeal Creme PiesOnce you sandwich the cookies together with the filling, you’ll have a hard time keeping yourself and your family away from these Oatmeal Creme Pies. They’re a classic for a reason.

Oatmeal Creme PiesWant more Oatmeal Creme Pies? Check out this pumpkin version!

Oatmeal Creme Pies
makes about 3.5 dozen sandwich cookies

Cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups quick oats*

Filling:
1 7 1/2-ounce jar marshmallow fluff (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature*
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hot water (from the tap is fine)

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about one minute. Beat in dark brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in two installments, until completely combined. Mix in quick oats. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Scoop cookie dough in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoon) increments. Roll into balls and set them at least 2 1/2 inches apart on prepared pans (I can fit 12 dough balls on a half sheet pan). Bake for 4 minutes. Rotate pans top to bottom in the oven. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, until no longer wet-looking. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking until you have used all the dough.

To make the filling, cream the marshmallow fluff and shortening with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add in vanilla and hot water and mix on high until the filling is very fluffy. There are two options from here:

  1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe about a teaspoon onto the middle of the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.
  2. Repeat until all cookies have been used. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

Cookies will keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

  1. If you don’t have quick oats, you may blitz 1 2/3 cups of old fashioned oats in the food processor until there are no whole oats visible. Steel cut oats will not work in this recipe.
  2. If you don’t want to use shortening, you may use 1/2 cup of room temperature butter.

Oatmeal Creme Pies

Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies

imageRemember Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies? I had totally forgotten about them until a few weeks ago. I had just finished a nine hour day nannying…a day when I had forgotten to eat. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s bad. I’ll eat anything that’s not nailed down. As I neared the subway, I realized that I was not going to make it home in one piece if I didn’t eat something immediately. I swung into the nearest bodega thinking I’d grab a Kind Bar, but they didn’t have any. I went for Cheez-Its, but they didn’t have those either. And that’s when I saw it: the familiar cellophane wrapper with two suuuuuper soft cookies sandwiched with marshmallow filling and a hefty dose of nostalgia. I gave the cashier a handful of change and promptly demolished that cookie. Once I had my brain functioning again, I got to thinking about Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. They are so soft that they can practically be rolled into a ball, there are no discernible oats, and they have an ingredient list that I would find horrifying on an occasion when I don’t feel like I’m about to pass out. I could do better. And as the weather was starting to turn cooler, I decided that I could make them pumpkin. And tiny. Little food just tastes better.

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When writing and testing this recipe, I tried to stay true to the Little Debbie classic. I wanted them to feel and taste authentic…but better, and with pumpkin spice. I didn’t want to take two Quaker Oatmeal Cookies, sandwich them with vanilla buttercream, and call them Oatmeal Creme Pies. Nope. I wanted for these cookies to be soft, sweet, not too oatey, chock-full of marshmallow–I wanted them to be nostalgia-inducing. But also pumpkin, because pumpkin. So I got to work.

Texture is key. These cookies have to be extra soft and puffy. Enter dark brown sugar and a bit of cornstarch. Egg yolks for richness. Pumpkin purée in place of egg whites (if we added both, these cookies would be cakey, and you know how I feel about cakey cookies 😭). Cinnamon and a hefty amount of my trusty pumpkin pie spice round out the pumpkin flavor. Yum.

Let’s talk about oats. I’ve never noticed any in Little Debbie’s cookies, which is probably why they are so incredibly soft. I thought about using oat flour to match their version, but instead went with quick oats. You can buy them in the store, but I just blitzed two cups of old-fashioned oats in the food processor until there were no visible whole oats. This gives our version a tiny bit of chew, but still keeps them feeling authentic. It’s an update worth making.

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The filling is made with marshmallow fluff, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and one very controversial ingredient. I’m kind of afraid to even talk about it because, well…it’s shortening. And it seems like today everybody hates shortening. And I understand! Hydrogenated oils are horrible for us! But if you want to keep the filling close to the original, shortening is a necessary evil. I use Spectrum brand, which I find at Whole Foods. I’m pretty sure an equal volume of room temperature butter would work in its place, but I haven’t actually attempted it. If you do, let me know in the comments! The filling is sticky (but not too sticky), and keeps these cookies soft and delicious for days. If you make a batch on Sunday, you’ll be able to tuck them in lunches all week long.

Now that I’ve mentioned shortening, is there anyone still reading this?! Maybe not, but if you are, make plans to make these this weekend and then send Little Debbie packing. These Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies are so, so good. You’ll never go back.

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Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies
makes about five dozen sandwich cookies

Cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
4 tablespoons pure pumpkin purée
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups quick oats*

Filling:
7oz marshmallow fluff (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature*
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hot water (from the tap is fine)

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about one minute. Beat in cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice until evenly dispersed. Add in dark brown and granulated sugars, and mix to combine. Beat in pumpkin purée, followed by the egg yolks and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three installments, until completely combined. Mix in quick oats. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Scoop cookie dough in one teaspoon increments. Roll into balls and set them two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the tops of the cookies no longer look wet. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking until you have used all the dough.

To make the filling, cream the marshmallow fluff and shortening with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add in vanilla and hot water and mix on high until the filling is very fluffy. There are two options from here:

  1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge.
  2. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

Cookies will keep very well covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

  1. If you don’t have quick oats, you may blitz two cups of old fashioned oats in the food processor until there are no whole oats visible. Steel cut oats will not work in this recipe.
  2. If you don’t want to use shortening, you may use 1/2 cup of room temperature butter.