Sunday, 29 May 2016

A Taste of Childhood (Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies)

I am half-Icelandic. I am very proud of this fact, but other than a fascination with ancient Norse clothing and culture and a physique that leaves me looking like I just walked off the set of Vikings, it hasn't had a huge impact on my life. Unless, of course, we talk about Christmas.

The holidays are a time when my Scandinavian background comes to the fore. We open presents Christmas Eve. We always get clothing so the Jólakötturinn won't eat us (that's a demon cat that comes for people who don't get new clothes by Christmas Eve. It's a real thing. Honest). And we eat a few traditional foods. Not Lutefisk. Or blood sausage, though my uncle did make some one year for my Amma (that's my Grandmother). No, we eat things like Terta, which is possibly the best thing in the world. It's a layer cake, with thin layers of cookie separated by layers of cardamom-spiced stewed prunes. I know, it doesn't sound amazing, but believe me it is. I once wrote a poem about Terta. That's how good it is.

Oats. The beginning of so many amazing things. And porridge.
But I'm not going to write about Terta today! That's for another day, perhaps closer to Christmas. No, today I am writing about it's little adopted cousin. These are not an Icelandic food, but they could be. My mum made them up when I was little and we have always called them Terta Cookies.

Best. Cookies. Ever

Basically, they are an oatmeal sandwich cookie with Terta filling inside. It's very simple, but these are my most favourite cookie in the world.
The oatmeal cookies are from a Robin Hood Flour cookbook my mum has had forever. I'm honestly not sure she ever makes anything but these out of it, I don't think I've ever seen her do so. (No, wait, I tell a lie. I just had to go get one of these cookies to eat while I write this and on the way back from the kitchen I remembered a recipe for Oat Bars - also to die for - that came from that book)
I realized while making these that they would be quite easy to make vegan. There are no eggs, the milk is easily replaced with non-dairy milk and I used coconut oil instead of some of the butter and shortening when I made this batch with zero ill effects. Yay vegan recipes! (note: if you live in a climate where your coconut oil is normally a liquid, chill it thoroughly before using it in this recipe and try to make the dough up quickly so it doesn't melt)

Half coconut oil, half butter. All delicious.

I will say this, though: don't try to make it healthy by changing the sugar. The brown sugar is a huge part of the flavour and texture of this cookie. If you were to change it out, they would never be as good.

Now I have the Rolling Stones stuck in my head. Yes, I know that song isn't about baking.

Once you mix up the dough, you chill it. The recipe says "several hours," I accidentally left mine more than 24 and it was fine. DO NOT skip this step. This dough is very very sticky; if you tried to do this at room-temperature it would be a disaster. Even well-chilled, you need a lot of flour to roll them out.

Seriously. I could eat my computer right now.

Rolling out the dough was difficult for me. Not so much the rolling itself, but resisting the urge to just eat it all raw was really hard. This cookie dough straight-up smells like my childhood. I ate way more of it than I'm really comfortable admitting (or even thinking about...).

Aren't they pretty?

Once the cookies are baked and cooled, make sandwiches! I, of course, fill mine with Terta filling (I'll link to that post when I do it next year, promise) but I imagine you could fill it with anything you want, really. Or just eat them plain. This is a spectacular oatmeal cookie, it really is.

Mmmmm... prunes....

Rolled Oat Cookies - makes about 60 2" cookies, or 30 sandwiches
(adapted from Robin Hood Flour cookbook ca. 1975)

1 1/2  cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Butter/shortening combination (or coconut oil)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 milk (or non-dairy substitute)
2 cups rolled oats

Measure flour into dry measuring cup, add baking powder and salt. Stir well to blend
Cream shortening, butter (or coconut oil) and sugar thoroughly. Add milk gradually, mixing well.
Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix well.
Stir in oats.
Chill dough several hours until firm.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/8" thickness. cut with floured 2" cookie cutter. Place on lightly greased (or lined with parchment paper) baking sheet.
Bake 16-18 minutes, until golden. Cool on racks.

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