Re-Experiencing Childhood Pleasures

My mother was a stay-at-home mom. (As far as I knew, there wasn’t any other kind.) One of the benefits to this arrangement was that I grew up eating homemade cookies. Every day on my walk home from school I looked forward to coming in the door and grabbing a cookie from the cookie tin kept high on a shelf in the kitchen. It was so high, I remember climbing up on a bureau to reach it.

Since there were five children in the family, the cookies were rationed. Every time you took a cookie, you made a mark by your name on a little piece of paper taped to the top of the tin. When you reached the designated limit, you were done. This may sound rather austere to some, but it was a brilliant system. It prevented fights (and the obligatory parental refereeing), it guaranteed that everyone got their fair share, and it taught me about delayed gratification: the more disciplined I was, the longer I got to enjoy my cookies.

My mother baked a huge variety of cookies and bars, always made from scratch. She would collect recipes from the Boston Globe, pasting them into the looseleaf pages of a large, three-ring binder. Two recipes that I remember with great fondness were meringues and honey yo-yos. These particular confections were very time-consuming to make. I know because sometimes I helped make them, adding sugar one teaspoon at a time to the egg whites being whipped up for the meringues in my mom’s Sunbeam electric mixer, or meticulously glueing together the honey yo-yo halves with raspberry jam.

But my favorite all-time cookies were whoopie pies: two rich chocolate cake-like cookies stuffed with creamy vanilla filling. If you have never had a real, honest-to-goodness, homemade whoopie pie, you don’t know what you’re missing. They taste nothing like the ones you see by the check-out at small-town convenience stores. For one thing, the filling in those is made with marshmallow fluff and god knows what else, and for another, I am pretty sure there is no butter in the chocolate cake.

I recently decided to try my hand at recreating these New England-based delights from my childhood. I didn’t have my mother’s original recipe, and it took several online attempts before I found the right one, that is, with the same creamy vanilla filling my mom used to make. But find it I did.

I gathered together the ingredients, and rolled up my sleeves.

To be continued…



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