Cookie of the Month: Flaking the familiar

I miss a lot of things about the gym. I used to go a few times a week, and now, not only are we unable to go to gyms because of the pandemic, the very gym I spent a number of years sweating in filed for bankruptcy. It wasn’t much, this no-frills gym, but it provided a release, occasional hope that I had a fighting chance (at anything) and a bit of a social outlet. Although I have resumed classes and exercise at home, I no longer get to see the friendly souls with whom I built a camaraderie. I miss these folks. And, ironically enough, I miss the food treats they brought me. Yes, treats. To the gym. It does seem to go against the goal, but the gesture and the food items that went with it reflected this gym community and the foodies among them whom I grew very fond of.

One of my gym classmates (we took a weightlifting class together), is a fiery ball of energy named Linda. Linda took it upon herself to help set up everyone’s equipment along with her own. Linda is smart and well-traveled, and, although it’s hard to tell how old she is (she is simply ageless), I would say well into her sixties (I don’t think she would mind me saying so). Her energy was to be admired, and she rarely missed the gym, but would occasionally travel to Hawaii where she had family, and she was nice enough to bring back treats. Among the coffee and chocolate-covered Macadamia nuts, was a surprising little cookie — a cornflake cookie, apparently a popular Hawaiian food item.

I remember recipes in the 1960s and 1970s for cornflake cookies, a retro type of thing in the era of back-of-the-box recipes encouraging the use of breakfast cereal (or, as my grandma called it, “breakfast food”) in baking (remember Raisin Bran muffins)? It seems like the cornflake cookie here on the mainland kind of came and went…I hadn’t thought about these cookies until Linda showed up from Hawaii with them. But in Hawaii, they are a popular item to this day. Linda seemed to think they originated at craft fairs back in the day and a few companies began making them. The cookies she brought from Hawaii were delicious, delightfully crispy and buttery with a little bit of cornflakes as a topping. 

Reminiscing about my recently demised gym days, I thought of friends, like Linda…and those damn tasty cookies. But I could make them, couldn’t I? Pandemically housebound and the Internet at the ready for searches of cornflake cookies recipes, what did I have to lose? I found a recipe (https://www.cookinghawaiianstyle.com/component/recipe/recipes/detail/241/classic-cornflake-cookies) that looked simple and tasty and claimed to be an authentic Hawaiian cornflake cookie recipe. It was basically a shortbread cookie (lots of butter, no eggs) that incorporated a cup of crushed cornflakes.

And crush them, I did. With renewed strength and the memory of my gym sisters and brothers. 

The dough really seemed to be that of a simple shortbread, with whipped butter (two sticks), sugar, and a good dose of vanilla,  then adding in flour and baking soda.

The crushed cornflakes were then added into the soft dough, sounding a little crunchy already in the mixing process.

Though the recipe said to drop the cookies out by the teaspoonful, I used my tablespoon cookie scoop. I ended up with about three dozen cookies versus the four dozen the recipe said it yielded, but I preferred the larger size.

The cookies looked really good, with those flecks of golden cornflakes in the soft pale cookie dough, and they smelled heavenly of butter, vanilla and just a whiff of corn.

These wining cookies, I’d make again. So easy to whip up and they are delicious — soft and tender and buttery, with that contrasting corny crunch from the cereal. They are a type of cookie, too, that works well to dip in your coffee or tea. I could eat many (and did), and may have to keep cornflakes on hand for more.

Classic Cornflake Cookies

From coukinghawaiianstyle.com

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°; lightly grease baking sheets (or line with parchment paper). In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add mixture of flour and baking soda, combining well. Add corn flakes. Drop by teaspoonful onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes.

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