This recipe is an autumn riff on traditional whoopie pies. In place of the cake-like outer layer, it uses crisp oatmeal cookies to balance the creamy ginger filling. While I usually like my whoopie pies soft, the crunchy contrast was a welcome change. The mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger also gave the cookies a warm spicy taste that made me think of fall.
The vintage variation is taken from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, which features recipes the authors collected across generations from their families. Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell met in an internet chat room in 1999 and ended up buying a goat farm in rural New York after they went apple picking one weekend. The "accidental goat farmers" eventually started their own artisanal food and crafts line, Beekman 1802, and became reality TV stars for a short time. The cookbook grew out of that collaboration and each heirloom recipe includes a personal memory or a story about how the recipe was created.
The cookbook also has a blank page next to each recipe where readers can jot down their own baking notes and memories. I've always loved the way recipes filter down through generations, changing a bit with each one, so the cookbook was a find for me.
Vintage Oatmeal Cream Pies with Ginger Cream
For the pies:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
For the filling:
1 package cream cheese (8 ounces) at room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger
To make the cookies:
1. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Place the oats on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice to prevent burning, until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on for the cookies.
2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or waxed paper.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and granulated and brown sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the toasted oats.
5. Roll two tablespoons of the dough into a ball or use a #30 ice cream scoop (1 ounce) and drop the dough two inches apart on the baking sheets. With dampened hands, flatten each to 2-inch thickness.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, switching the baking sheets from top to bottom when halfway through, until lightly browned around the edges and set. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the filling:
1. In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the ginger.
2. Spread the mixture on 12 of the cookies and then top with the remaining 12 cookies.
Tip: Toasting the oats beforehand not only makes them crisp but brings out a delicious nutty flavor.