12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS COOKIES – DATE-FILLED COOKIES

DAY 8 – Every year I begged Mom to make these. They were a Christmas-only speciality. The recipe card even has the word Christmas, underlined, written in the top corner. I’m guessing this was something her mother made, along with date-nut bread and date spirals and the date bars she called Matrimony Bars. Maybe love of dates is a genetic thing. I have all of these written in Mom’s perfect penmanship, fountain pen on yellowed, lined cards.

The dough and filling can be made a day ahead of baking. Just cook and cool the filling, then store covered in the refrigerator. Same with the dough, mix and put in a covered container in the fridge. It’s a sticky dough. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of flour when you roll it out.

One unusual instruction here is to dissolve the baking soda in a tablespoon of hot water. I did a little experimenting and just added the soda with the flour as most recipes specify. When the cookies spread a lot more than I remember them ever doing in the past, I did a little research. It seems this is a common directive in old recipes, to help prevent too much rise or spread. So why not just use less soda? Beats me, but in the future I’ll stick with the tried and true way, even though these will all get eaten anyway.

– Joan, 10 December 2018

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Date-filled Cookies

Dough:

  • 1 cup butter
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  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour

Filling:IMG_5516

  • 12 oz. chopped dates (2¼ cups)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

To make the dough cream butter with sugar, then mix in eggs, vanilla and the dissolved soda. Mix in flour. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1-2 hours or overnight. When ready to bake roll out 1/8″ thick and cut shapes. You’ll need a top and a bottom for each cookie, or cut out a 3″ shape and fold it in half over the filling.

Make the filling – put dates, sugar, and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer till all the water is absorbed and filling is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then stir in the chopped nuts. If you want to make this ahead of time wait to add the nuts until you’re ready to use it.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Assemble the cookies –  place a spoonful of filling on a cut-out shape. Brush a little water all around the edge and place another cut-out shape on top, pressing down on the edges to seal. Or drop a spoonful on the bottom half of a shape, brush water on the edge, fold the top half over the filling and seal the edge. Bake about 8 minutes. Any dough left after you’ve used up all of the filling can be rolled out 1/8″ thick and baked 6-7 minutes. Cool all cookies completely before storing or freezing.

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