As I may have mentioned once or twice before, I spent last summer singing in a musical revue of TV theme songs at the Minnesota Fringe Fest. Every evening leading up to the festival, the company gathered to learn the intricate harmonies of our favorite old television theme songs – Laverne and Shirley, The Great Space Coaster, Charles in Charge, Joanie Loves Chachi, and dozens more.
I left rehearsal each night awash in sweet nostalgia, remembering all the lost treasures of my youth. Sweet Valley High books, Love’s Baby Soft, Donkey Kong, feather earrings. And in honor of our opening night performance, my own personal retro-fest extended to the kitchen, where I prepared one of my favorite childhood meals: an open-face Spaghetti-O’s sandwich on spongy, white Wonder bread, liberally buttered, and for dessert a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie.
I sat down to dine on happy memories in the sparkly glow of unicorn stickers, and I was sorely disappointed. The Spaghetti-O’s were nothing but pasta mush and mysterious gristle-balls in metallic-tasting goo. Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O’s, indeed. And the Oatmeal Cream Pie was oddly textured, and so sugary sweet, a single bite made my teeth ache.
Sadly, my beloved childhood meal held up over time about as well as Elizabeth Wakefield’s tuxedo shirt.
I suppose it wasn’t all that difficult to let go of my fondness for Spaghetti-O’s sandwiches – the things I loved about them are easily duplicated in a big-girl plate of pasta and a sliced baguette. But how could I expect fresh-faced Little Debbie to mature along with my palette? It soon became clear that the only solution was to make oatmeal cream pies from scratch.
The recipe is adapted (just barely) from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine, where Little Debbie grew up and graduated with a master’s degree in tasty treats for the kid inside. The cookie-cakes are quietly spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon, then filled with creamy marshmallow frosting. The soft, puffy cookies combined with a fairly stiff filling made for a relatively tidy dessert with few squissues.
Continue reading for the Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies recipe
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1½ cups quick oats
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (7 oz.) jar Marshmallow Fluff
- ½ cup shortening
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together the butter, sugars, lemon juice, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until fully combined. Add the oats and mix again.
- Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in hot water.
- In a separate, larger bowl, combine the fluff, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Mix on high speed until fluffy. Add the salt water and continue to mix until the mixture is creamy and glossy.
- Once cookies have cooled, add a heaping tablespoon of marshmallow filling to the backside of half the cookie, and sandwich with another cookie.