St. Mark’s School “Lionfood” Exam Cookies

April 16, 2011

For the past 4 years,  I’ve been making variations of these cookies for the Exam Bake at St Mark’s School, and I always get requests for the recipe, which I haven’t written yet.. so if anyone would like to make these again,  here is the latest version.  Lions need more than zebra meat for exams.  They enjoy granola-like cookies.  The idea behind this recipe is  to take oatmeal cookies and crank up the amount of grains (4 times the usual amount!) while reducing sugar & butter, until they are almost like clumps of granola, not cookies.

This recipe makes about 4  batches of about 1 doz cookies each, which you can  split into different add-ins – one for each exam topic.

Blueberry: History/Classics
Cranberry: Arts/Religion
Raisins: English/Languages
Expresso Beans: Math/Science

1 oats, 2 mixed grain


  • 1 container   (4 cups) oats
  • 2 containers (8 cups) of multi-grain (oat, rye, wheat) cereal (Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 sticks (32 oz) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • add-ins:  black raisins, cranberries, dried blueberries, expresso beans, about 6 oz each

The trick is to pre-toast some grains to drive moisture out and add baking powder to get the grains to just stick together while still remaining light and crumbly.  I also  use sea salt instead of fine salt since it creates ‘sparks’ of flavor and requires less sodium overall.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Pour the 2 multigrain packages (not the oats)  into 2 or 3 baking dishes and put them in the oven to brown the grains as you prepare the rest of the dough.   Here’s what they look like before browning:

color of mixed grains before toasting

after toasting

Stir the grains every 10 minutes or so to keep them from browning too much at the edges, and don’t leave them in longer than 30 minutes.

While the grains are toasting, melt the butter (microwave is fine), mix with butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Beat with a mixer until smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, baking powder until well blended.  Then add the flour mix to the butter and mix it all up well.

When the multigrains are done toasting, take them out and mix in the oats-only package.  This will produce a variety of lighter and darker color grains.  At this point, you have a large bowl of dry grains, and a bowl of sticky batter, which will combine to make the dough.

granola dough with black raisins mixed in

Next, combine all the grains with all the batter and blend together in a very large bowl.

Then, split up the resulting granola-dough into 4 or 5 batches  - one for each add-in ingredient you’re using.

Blend in the add-in to each batch and create the cookies. Use a plastic 1/4 cup measure to scoop out enough dough for each cookie, pack it together slightly, and place on nonstick buttered baking sheet.  This dough won’t look like regular cookie dough – rather, it should be so granular and loose that it’s almost falling apart.

falling apart on cookie sheet... it's all good











Now all you need to do is bake… about 12-15 minutes each, until they look/smell done, then let cool and lift off sheet and they’re ready to enjoy!
NOTE: When using expresso beans, put them in a bowl first and tamp them with a mug to crush them into smaller pieces.
I also label the final package “Contains Caffeine” just in case any students want to avoid caffeine.





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