Oatmeal Cream Pies have a special place in my heart. As I child, I was sent to Tennessee on occasion to visit my grandparents in the summertime along with my younger brother. This wasn’t exactly a warm, happy time in my Huckleberry youth. Don’t get me wrong. My grandparents were wonderful people, but the Tennessee summers were humid and the town of retirees where they lived was boring and my grandfather would frequently complain that we wouldn’t feel so much like strangers if my parents could afford the airfare for visits more often… like my cousins enjoyed.
Perhaps more trying than the humidity or the emotional distance that was then blamed on my parents was the food. While I was repeatedly assured that my grandmother was once a cook of notable talents, the unusual concoctions she set before us at every meal was a daily lesson in the many trials of the human condition. My brother and I would exchange glances over sandwiches made from Wonder Bread with cold, smushed-up hot dogs spread throughout the center, daring each other to take a bite while internally gauging our hunger to determine if we finally reached that point where we would actually “eat anything.”
The one saving grace on those summer trips was a convenience store located behind a short stretch of woods at the edge of my grandparents’ yard. After canned milk and wheat bricks for breakfast, and before smushed-up hot dogs or plain soggy egg noodles churched up with a can of tuna fish arrived for dinner, we would sneak through the woods for glass bottles of orange soda and oatmeal cream pies.
There was something very unifying for my brother and me in these summer jaunts. Despite all the bickering we engaged in back home, out here we were in this together. Together, we rationed the money our mom gave us before we got on the plane. Together, we would journey through the woods which, for two desert rats, was a spooky place of strange bugs and poison ivy and maybe even bats. Together, we would negotiate the strange accents of rural Tennessee to finalize our purchase of pop and oatmeal cream pies. And then we would head back, pausing under some picturesque tree or seated together on a felled tree long enough to enjoy the spoils of our adventure.
Oftentimes, it was just about twenty-four hours since the last food we both chewed and swallowed. The sun was warm but nothing like the blistering Arizona heat we were accustomed to as we devoured Orange Crush and Oatmeal Cream Pies. I can still call to mind that flavor combination during those sticky summers in Tennessee.
I honestly thought nothing could supplant that perfect memory in my mind. Those thin disks of chewy oatmeal cookies encasing a rubbery layer of sugary “cream”. Well, turns out, Dana has something even better. She managed to take that corner store classic and fancy it up for a dessert worthy of guests.
Fresh baked (vegan) oatmeal cookies sandwiched around a delicious layer of cinnamon cream. For her oatmeal cookie recipe, Dana modified an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe found in this awesome cookbook: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Then she added her special cinnamon cream to the middle to really make this treat pop.
And, last but certainly not least, a special note from Dana: “One great thing about this recipe is that you can make these any size. Mini pies, giant pies, you name it.”
- 2/3 cups 'milk' (I used coconut milk)
- 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
- 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
- 2/3 cups canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups quick cooking oats
- 1 3/4 - 2 cups shortening (I like Spectrum brand)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk milk and flax seeds together until well combined. Whisk in oil and brown sugar until it is caramel-like. This takes a few minutes, so don't give up! Once oil and sugar are well mixed, add in vanilla.
- Sift in dry ingredients and mix as you go. Once everything is well incorporated, fold in the oatmeal.
- Line baking sheet(s) with parchment and spray with non-stick spray of choice (if using). The cookie dough will be kind of sticky. I like to use gloves and try to form a ball (or something close to it), drop it onto the sheet and flatten it a bit. If you don't have gloves, just drop tablespoons of dough onto the sheet and flatten. (Flatten as much as you like to achieve the size you want, as these don't spread out much when baking.) Bake 10-12 minutes. Once out of the oven, let sit for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.
- While cookies are in the oven, you can begin to make the filling. (Of course, you can make this while cookies are cooling, too).
- Place room temperature shortening in a large bowl. With a hand mixer, whisk it up until it has a creamy consistency. Add powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Add cinnamon and vanilla. The filling should be the texture of what you might use as cupcake frosting. If it seems too dry, add a (very) small splash of 'milk'. You can adjust the amount of sugar and cinnamon to your liking. Over time, you'll figure out how to get it just right for YOU.
- Once the cinnamon filling is ready and cookies are cooled, you're ready to put these pies together. Spoon or pipe filling onto the bottom of one cookie, then top with another. Presto! You're done!