Matt McCrae's Sandwich Cookies. Illustration by Kim La Fave.
Illustration by Kim La Fave.

Matt McCrae’s Sandwich Cookies

And daffodil parades past

When my husband and I both worked in Seattle, we lived aboard the Comtesse Deuxième, our old wood 55-foot Chris Craft Constellation. Each April, our yacht club gathered with several others to participate in the Tacoma Yacht Club Daffodil Marine Festival, which culminates in a Sunday afternoon parade of boats decorated with thousands of daffodils. It provided a great incentive to make the topsides and handrails sparkle.

One year, we arrived on Friday afternoon. While everyone else roamed up and down the dock drinking margaritas, meeting old and new friends, and admiring each other’s gleaming brightwork, I sat at my computer in a corner of the saloon and struggled with my assignment for a creative writing class. And hoped I didn’t look too antisocial.


Writing, nudging each word into a sentence, then each sentence into a paragraph that conveys the intended meaning and sounds pleasing to the ear takes massive amounts of time. At least, it does for me.

The day before the parade was crammed with activities, including a Jeopardy trivia game. Each club selected a token to dress in a special costume and represent their group. My husband was ours. I was still typing, putting words together, ripping them out and starting over, so several of the women carted him off to the local thrift store to find a suitable outfit.

He came back dressed in an iridescent purple strapless dress, a hot-pink feather boa and white roller skates with huge pink pom-poms. I have to say, he looked stunning. Who knew he would make such a gorgeous model? l should mention that he had a full head of curly black hair, which didn’t hurt the image. Someone whipped out black lipstick, carefully applied it to his lips, and he was ready.


As I recall, our club didn’t score all that well in the game, but Jim was a big hit. He practically floated around the Tacoma Yacht Club ballroom on his roller skates, flicking his pink boa from side to side, pirouetting with èlan and grace.

Last year, the daffodil parade was cancelled because of COVID-19, and I don’t know if it will be held this year. But some things haven’t changed. With or without the festivities, we will wash the winter grime off Pelican, our current boat. Millions of daffodils are brightening the fields, just as they do every spring, and I am going to buy a bucketful. And one more thing: I’m still going to be sitting in a corner coaxing words into sentences.

Since the year of the purple dress and pink boa, I have rewritten the assignment I was working on that weekend too many times to count. Finally, it became part of my debut novel, which made it to press last August. All that time, I lived with the characters in my head, and they developed lives of their own. I know it sounds nutty, but other authors have confirmed this. I’m not crazy.


The characters may be fictional, but they have ideas of their own. They suggest changes to the plot, balk at what I want them to do and occasionally strike off on their own. One of them, hottie lawman Matt McCrae, really surprised me. He wanted to get up early, mix a batch of bread dough, and while the dough rose, bake cook­ies, including his special chocolate sandwich cookies.

I had to put on an apron and figure out some recipes. In the end, his love of baking didn’t make it into the book. But I got reacquainted with my mother’s aunt’s sugar cookies, and once I started, I made several variations that I liked. Filled with chocolate ganache, the chocolate version is my favourite, but lemon cookies with lemon buttercream are a close second. Their delicate, buttery flavour married with the sprightly taste of fresh lemon is perfect for spring. I’m baking some now. Then I’ll help make Pelican sparkle and go find some daffodils.

Basic Sugar Cookies

Makes three dozen five-centimetre (two-inch) cookies.


Note: I haven’t yet figured out how to keep the cookies crisp once the frosting is added, so if you don’t want them to soften, put them together shortly before serving.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Measure flour into a separate bowl.
  2. Add remaining dry ingredients, stir to combine and set aside.
  3. Cream softened butter and sugar together.
  4. Add the vanilla and egg and mix for at least 20 seconds.
  5. Add dry ingredients in four or five increments, stirring well after each addition.
  6. Either roll into logs, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate overnight, then slice and place on a baking sheet, OR refrigerate for at least one hour or until firm.
  7. Roll out, one-third at a time, on a floured board or silicon mat.
  8. Cut to desired shapes.
  9. Bake at 350° for eight to 12 minutes.

Matt McCrae’s Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

  1. Follow the basic recipe but omit the nutmeg.
  2. Add to the dry ingredients:
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
      Optional: 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  3. Fill with either ganache or chocolate buttercream.

Lemon Cookies

  1. Follow the basic recipe but omit the nutmeg.
  2. Add to the butter and sugar mixture:
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  3. Add to the dry ingredients:
    • 1 /4 cup flour

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Heat 1/3 cup heavy cream to just below boiling.
  2. Pour cream over 90 grams (three ounces) semisweet chocolate or other preferred type.
  3. Stir until smooth.
    Optional: 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Lemon or Chocolate Buttercream

Beat together:

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • Add either: 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon juice OR 3 tablespoons cocoa powder