Among the items at my mother’s house that I knew for sure I would keep was her recipe box. It’s not very full, to be honest, but I remember eating most of the dishes indexed there. Some of them, like Cottage Potatoes and Chicken and Rice casserole, reflect a mid-western sense of frugality and convenience. The former calls for pimiento cheese sauce and the latter for a can of cream of chicken soup. I won’t ever make the potatoes, but I loved that chicken as a kid, and I’m thinking about how I might recreate it with better ingredients. Her recipe requires nothing more than to put chicken parts, uncooked rice, the soup base and a packet of onion dip mix into a dish and bake it for an hour and a half. My version would probably require a roux, not exactly a quick fix.
In the back of the box, with the other sweets, I found a recipe for Oatmeal-Zucchini Drops. With oats and a touch of cinnamon, this sounded like my kind of cookie. As I was mixing the dough (which is really more of a batter) I stopped, said “well, duh” out loud, and shook my head. Of course they are my kind of cookie: They appeared to be almost exactly like that other family favorite, the famous Banana Nugget.
They were good, but they needed a little something, especially if I was going to write about them. They reminded me a little bit of carrot cake, and that’s when the sky cleared, a heavenly chorus sang hallelujah, and I had one of my best ideas in recent memory: These cookies would be an excellent medium for cream cheese frosting.
I put cream cheese frosting in the same category as basil pesto, Bordier butter and aïoli, and that category is called You Could Spread This On Anything And I Would Eat It.
And thus, Oatmeal-Zucchini Drops became Oatmeal-Zucchini Sandwich Cookies. I added the frosting recipe to the back of the index card, my messy handwriting clashing with my mother’s own unmistakable, clear penmanship, and refiled it for future generations.
(Says the serially single 34 year old).
Oatmeal-Zucchini Sandwich Cookies
for the cookies:
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 c rolled oats
1 c (6 oz) finely grated zucchini
for the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, chilled (good old Philadelphia is best)
4 T (2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 to 1 1/4 c powdered sugar, sifted
a few drops of vanilla extract
1/4 t freshly grated orange zest
1. Make the cookie dough: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, and sugars. With a rubber spatula, gently stir the dry ingredients into the egg mix until just combined. Gently fold in the zucchini and oats. Chill the dough for at least one hour or overnight.
2. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with either parchment paper or a silicon mat. Drop one teaspoonful of dough onto the sheet for each cookie, leaving two inches between each drop. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom and slightly firm to the touch. Don’t let them get too dark.
3. Cool the cookies completely before frosting. They can be stored, unfrosted, for a day or two in an airtight container at room temperature.
4. Make the frosting: Put the cream cheese and butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until combined and smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and orange zest and beat until the mixture is smooth and light.
5. To assemble the sandwiches, smear a little frosting on the flat side of one cookie, and then attach another cookie, flat side to flat side.
makes about 2 dozen sandwiches
Notes The cookies can be baked a day ahead and stored, unfrosted, in an airtight container. Once frosted and assembled, the sandwiches are best eaten the same day. It’s important to have the cream cheese cold and the butter at room temp — you may end up with lumpy frosting otherwise. You can use more or less powdered sugar, to your taste.