Minnesota Cooking: Sweet Cookies Filled With a Cooked Date Filling
A Note From Char Milbrett
Dear Fellow Cook:
I have always said that I need my own cooking show. Why? Because my cooking endeavors do not always end up with the results that I need.
I picture myself with a Julia Child type show. Remember her show? She'd intone in her high pitched, but low toned clipped British accent voice, "Here we have our cookie mix all ready to go. We have previously cooked our date filling and now, as we build our first round circle, we gently put a dollop of date filling on our first cookie. Then, we follow with the rest of the cookies.
Now we put our finished cookies into oven number 1. We will let them cook at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Now, we'll go to oven number 2, where we will extract our cookies from a previous mix, so you can see the next step."
Yes. All the baking went smoothly in Julia's kitchen.
Now, in my show, at this point, at that hoped moment of triumph, I would get a funny look on my face. You know, a look you get when you smell something disgusting, then exclaim, "Wait, what is that burning smell? Is that oven number 2?" [there'd be some scuffling sounds] "OMG!!! Go to Commercial!!!"
[Yes. This is where we giggle softly at each other]
It's Time to Make My Own Date Cookies
I remember eating date cookies when I was a kid. Maybe grandma made them. Maybe my mom made them. At any rate, since I'm in my 50's, I haven't had any for a long time.
First of all, describing the flavor of a date is difficult. The flavor is mingled with texture. A date, by itself, is a combination of dry and chewy and an almost molasses flavor. They are almost like a piece of soft candy.
I'm all about convenience as I ponder this situation. There are specialty flavors of cookie dough just waiting for me to use for my batch of cookies. I thought about using a sugar cookie recipe or even using a white cake mix and flavoring it with vanilla, but I saw a holiday flavor, called Sea Salt Hazelnut, so I think I'll use it.
My parents were date eaters. My father's sister used to send us a box of Amport Dates for Christmas. Those date boxes contained lots of dates in various forms. Another cookie I remember being good were the Date Balls.
Ingredients for Date Filling
- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- Whatever your pre-made cookie mix calls for (mine was one egg and a 1/2 cup of butter)
Instructions for Making the Filling
- Step One: According to most of the recipes I have researched, you must mix your cup of dates with a cup of brown sugar and a cup of water. The mixture is placed in a 2 quart sauce pan, heated to boiling for 10 minutes. Once cooked, you just set aside to cool. As it cools, it thickens up.
- Step Two:I had to roll balls of dough, put some flour on the outside of the ball, then flatten it and spread a couple tablespoons of filling on it, and then, another flattened cookie on top.
- Step Three: The instructions said to bake for 9 - 11 minutes at 350 degrees. **I looked at my cookies at 11 minutes and decided to bake them 5 minutes longer.
- Step Four: When cookies come out of oven, wait a minute until the cookies start to cool a little, then loosen the cookies from the sheet. I used a flat, metal spatula to swish under the cookies to loosen them. You can leave the cookies to cool a bit on the sheet and then move them to a mouth, or a bag of some sort.
**There was something wrong with my initial method. The cookies merged into one huge cookie. Now, if I were making bar cookies, it would have been no big deal. It still was no big deal, but I ended up separating the big cookie into smaller cookies. The flavor was still the same.
Making Date Filling
Mix Dough and Build Each Cookie
I used Betty Crocker sea salt hazelnut cookie mix. The use of this particular flavor cookie mix was a good idea. The flavor of the cookie merged with the flavor of the date filling and it was delicious! They smell really good. The only problem is if months down the road, if I want to bake these again, this particular mix will not be on the shelves anymore. I think this flavor is an experimental flavor by the company and will probably disappear after the holidays are over. Like fruitcake.The instructions for the cookie-mix bag says to mix half a cup of butter and one egg together plus the contents of the package.
Well. There were problems. The dough is super sticky, and I had to drop them in flour just to work with them. The act of dropping the ball in a small pile of flour worked to coat them. Drop, flip over, do a quick squish with fingers and place on cookie sheet. Date filling, then repeat the ball process to put a second, flattened circle on top of the filling.
Do not try to seal the edge of the cookie. It is okay for the filling to show at the edges. Everything will set exactly where you have it. The cookie will expand as the egg cooks so leave a generous amount of space between cookies.
Baking the Cookies
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees, 9 - 11 minutes. Then cool. Store in an airtight container.
The Cookies Close Up
Musings About My Large Cookie Problem
I had a bowl of flour to dip my hamburger press into, but I ended up just throwing a ball in the bowl, and then, flattening it with my fingers. I placed the flattened ball on the cookie sheet and put enough date filling on the top to cover to the edges, then, placed a second cookie on top of the date filling.
Leave a lot of space between the cookies if you use the Betty Crocker dough. It spread... a lot.
Musings about how to correct the spreading issue:
Maybe my oven is not working correctly and it didn't cook the cookies correctly. I did end up baking them 5 minutes longer. I felt the top of the cookie and it wasn't dry yet, so I ended up baking longer.
Maybe It could have been the type of baking sheet I was using. Maybe it didn't heat up correctly.
Maybe the butter was a little too warm. I warmed my butter so it would mix better and placed my egg in it. Perhaps my egg was already starting to cook from the butter and was useless in my dough. Next time, I will do things a little differently.
Planning Your Batch
You'll need half of the dough for the bottoms and half of the dough for the tops.
The Cookie Surprise
I brought them to work in Ziploc Bags the next day. It was so I could just give people a cookie without using a plate.
Now, mind you, the day before my coworker and I had discussed date cookies. How there was a bakery in Southern Minnesota that her husband stopped at, this time of year, and was known to bring home several dozen at a time.
Since I like to experiment with baking, I decided to try baking some that night. The next day, I brought these cookies to work to share.
Our supervisor had brought doughnuts. So, we had doughnuts to eat and I handed her the bag with her cookie in it. She gave me a really odd look. She said, "You baked these last night?"
Later, at lunch time, when we had our lunch boxes, she rummaged around in hers and produced a ziploc bag with two date cookies from the bakery in Southern Minnesota.
She said it was a moment of great minds think alike since she and I had talked about date cookies and she had not discussed the conversation with her husband. She was surprised when I handed her a bag with a cookie in it, and later that day, she handed me a similar bag, with her husbands cookies.