My son is a big eater.  He is not a very big person, not in any direction, but he can pack away an enormous amount of food.  Though you might expect he would finish a big meal looking like The Little Prince’s boa-constrictor-who-swallowed-an-elephant (that creature, if you recall, resembled a fedora--see drawings #1 and #2, below), in fact he does not.  I am not sure where he keeps the food.

illustrations by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When he was in kindergarten, his Lunchbox Lament was “never enough.”  I assembled bigger and bigger lunches, and we began to project that when he got to first grade, and required both snack and lunch to be packed for him, that he would need a wheeled suitcase to carry it all.

This has not come to pass.  I sing the Lunchbox Lament now, and it goes a little something like this: “why didn’t you eat your lunch?  Why, oh, why, did you not eat the nice lunch that I packed?” His standard story is that the allotted lunch time is too short.  This defense has been cross-checked with his teacher, and it did not bear up under further investigation.  It is suspected that chatting occupies the jawbone in question more than chewing does.

Recently he has made it known that he has covetous feelings for his seat-mate’s vanilla sandwich cookies, and so I spent some time last week making a cookie that could carry some nutritional firepower and still taste like a cookie.  This is version 2.0, and maybe you will try it out and let me know how you tweak it, and I’ll let you know if they make a round trip in today’s lunchbox.

The fine print:

  • I used a combination of shortening and butter in the cookies, because that makes them taste (to me, anyway) more bakery-ish, and makes them crisper, but you could use all butter.
  • In my quest to boost nutrition, I replaced the standard powdered sugar in the filling with nonfat dry milk powder, which is quite sweet and hardly required any additional sweetener to make them feel dessertish.  I reckon you could use powdered other kinds of milk, too. Just be sure it is entirely free of lumps.
  • The fillings may look too runny when you mix them up, but once they are in the cookie sandwich, they set up more firmly.
  • I used the no-stir kind of peanut butter for the peanut version (I have a secret passion for Skippy--do not tell anyone); if you use all-natural peanut butter, you may want a slightly higher proportion of shortening to PB for the sake of texture.
  • My brilliant friend Alana (who has a dandy recipe for the straight-up dessert version of the classic tooth-blackening chocolate sandwich cookie in her wonderful book) taught me to slit open a paper towel tube lengthwise and roll the dough log in it to create round cookies, but all my empty paper towel tubes get turned into telescopes or marble runs almost immediately and are probably under the couch.  Lacking that high-tech tool to mold with, I punted and made square-ish cookies:
sandwich cookies
makes about 36 sandwiches
  • 8 T butter
  • 4T shortening
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1 ¾ c flour (all purpose, or a mixture of ww pastry flour and all purpose)
  • ½ c almond meal
  • ¼ c golden flax meal

Cream the butter, shortening and sugar until quite smooth.   Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Combine the dry ingredients, and mix these in to make a smooth dough.  Don't over-beat.  Scrape the dough into a fat snake onto a long sheet of wax paper, and roll it up, either using a slit-open tube to create a smooth round log, or using the counter to form a smooth square.  Chill for at least one hour in the fridge.

When you are ready to bake, line two baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 350.  Use a sharp knife to cut the chilled dough into 1/4" slices (thicker cookies create an unsatisfactory cookie-to-filling ratio, and lower your yield) and lay these on the parchment. They will not rise or spread much in baking so they can be pretty near each other.  Bake 8-10 minutes, reversing the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking, until the centers are firm and the edges barely golden.  Remove to a rack to cool.

When they are completely cool, fill them with one of these things:

peanut butter filling
  • 4T creamy (not chunky) PB
  • 3T shortening
  • 1T honey
  • ¼ c milk powder

Cream everything together well and try not to eat it all.

vanilla filling
  • 3T butter
  • 4T shortening
  • ¼ c milk powder
  • 1T honey
  • ¼ t vanilla, or 1/2 t finely-grated lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice

Cream everything together really well.