I think the first person to tell me I ate too much was my Nana. It was summer, 1993. I was eight. One afternoon, just as we’d finished “Days of Our Lives,” she sat me down in her wicker bedroom chair and told me, “Andrea…I think you’re eating too many bananas.”
Really, Nana? Bananas? I think my follow-up was, “Are they going extinct?”
She didn’t quite respond to that. Instead, she said something something something, blah blah blah, “It’s not good to eat so much.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant. Did she want me to only eat one of the six-square-inch cinnamon pecan sticky buns she bought us from Kroger? Should I not microwave them and then smear a little butter between the glazed coils? I decided she would never want me to discontinue that.
I told her I’d do my best. I sprinkled Equal on my Rice Krispies, ate two Lean Cuisines in a row, and used Cool Whip like a face cream. Hmm. Still too much, said Nana.
I decided I’d do as Nana did. I wore blue eyeliner, started referring to my Saturday morning cartoons as “my soaps,” sprayed Aqua Net around my head like a halo, and called people by the wrong name. I thought Nana’s schtick was running through the list of her sons’ names before calling out mine. Come to find out, that was simply senility.
You might be wondering if I ever lost any weight after Nana’s talking-to. No. In an attempt to be like Nana, I didn’t account for the fact that Nana was 250 lbs, a closet eater, with diabetes. Mimicking her might have been the wrong route.
Thinking about it now, I laugh.
Nana didn’t mean to give me a complex. And truth be told, I didn’t develop one. Not then, anyway. She was just loud and somewhat ludicrous. The type who turned most sentences into song. We were nothing if not honest. One time I told her that her laugh bothered my ears. And that she was selfish with the Nintendo controller. For the record, she really did hog Zelda.
Milano cookies seemed to me to be pre-portioned. I assumed Pepperidge Farm was being helpful by nestling four to a paper cup in that folded white bag. I remember the buttery shortbread, the way it crumbled, dissolved, on my tongue. The sandy texture seeming appropriate given the day at the beach I’d spent with Nana. The bum of my size 6X swimsuit sagging with wet sand. I’d tell Nana, “I love these as much as I love Anthony.” My brother looked up from the next room.
I don’t know which genius over at Pepperidge Farm can be thanked for the Milano. Who created that faint vanilla-scented shortbread oval? Who smeared creamy, dark chocolate between the original two? Whoever it was, I’d like to kiss them squarely on the mouth. The cookie, in its simple sandy state, is what I’d describe as perfect. Buttery, richly chocolatey, and smooth.
This recipe is supposedly from the kitchen at Pepperidge Farm. I found it in a book, “More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes.” Inside, there are pages of copycat recipes to mimic the most beloved food products and restaurant menu items. This Milano cookie is a masterpiece. So simple that I could ask Dee Dee to make it in between naps.
And the result? Have mercy.
Milano Cookies (recipe found in More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes)
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup salted butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 TBSP salted butter
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl until fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract, then the flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir until well incorporated.
Place the cookie dough, 2 inches apart, on your prepared baking sheets and bake for 13- 15 minutes, or until golden. This baking time is very approximate, you must simply watch them once you reach the twelve minute mark, as overbaking them would be a fate worse than death.
Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the chocolate sauce while the cookies cool. Melt the chocolate chips and the 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir and microwave for an additional 15 seconds if necessary. You do not want to burn the chocolate, simply stir it until it melts. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Spread a thin layer of chocolate onto one underside of a cookie, then press another on top and press lightly to seal the two. Let the cookies rest on a cooled baking sheet until the chocolate hardens a bit.