Char is a creative writer, artist, and inventor—in and out of the kitchen.
Nostalgic for Dates
When I was a kid, my aunt lived in California, and for Christmas, she'd mail us this massive care package of assorted Amport date products. It was fun. There was a fancy little two-pronged fork that came with them, which was meant for stabbing the dates out of the box. Those dates were sticky. I loved them!
So, of course, once in a while I get nostalgic for dates—and I think about making date cookies. In my mind's eye, I pictured date balls with powdered sugar or the like, and I found a recipe on the back of the box for stuffed date balls.
Well. I may have purchased all the ingredients to follow this recipe, but then I got a little sidetracked.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 12 min
Serves one or two people
- 2 boxes whole pitted dates
- 1 1/2 sticks butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. allspice
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- Melt the butter. Add brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir until smooth. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and allspice together.
- Combine the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture. Stir well to make a dough.
- Cut the dough ball into pieces, in order to make it easier to make smaller balls. Make small balls.
- Pick up one small dough ball, squish it flat, add a whole date to it, cover the date with dough and roll the ball in hands. Place on ungreased pan. Add some date hair to the one side of the ball, and add two eyes (pecan pieces) to the spot below the date hair.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes, or until the top of the cookies start to crack.
- Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool for a moment, then loosen from the pan with a spatula.
- You can eat them or place in a box with wax paper between the layers.
- I measured out the flour into a small bowl and added my other dry ingredients to it (baking powder, cinnamon and allspice).
- There is no salt in this recipe. I didn't notice that until I was mixing the bowl of flour and saw that they left it out.
- You can set this bowl aside while you are getting your other ingredients mixed together.
- I started with a stick and a half of butter. I put it in the large bowl and placed it in the microwave for a few seconds until the butter was starting to cave in.
- Next, place your brown sugar in the bowl and your vanilla and your two eggs. Stir that all around until it is smooth. Then, add your flour mixture on top of the sugar mixture. Stir around.
- The original recipe instructions call for using a mixer with a mixing bowl, but I decided not to. I used a wooden spoon to stir mine.
Making the Balls
- First I made small, uniform-sized balls.
- I took a knife and sliced and divided my dough ball. I took each cut piece and put a date inside it.
- The first ball I started with had a date that I'd cut in half and placed a couple of pieces of pecan inside of it. That was okay, but that's when I decide to put the pecan pieces on the outside for eyes and put the date on the inside of the cookie and the pressed date pieces on the outside.
Adding the "Hair"
- I used my garlic press to press the date into small strands, almost like little date noodles. I picked up a cluster of them to use for hair for my little cookie cookies.
- Pick up a few strands of date hair and place on the top of the ball. I tried a few strands as a moustache, but I couldn't get it to look right.
- I thought about a beard, but again, I couldn't get it to look right. I'm just going to leave it at understated. (You and I know it's hair.)
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Adding the "Eyes"
- Take two pecan pieces and press them into the space directly below the date hair. These will be the eyes.
- Like other cookies, place on ungreased sheet, leaving space between them for expansion when baking. They will flatten out and almost double in size.
Photo Guide: Making the Dough
Photo Guide: Making the Dough Balls
Photo Guide: Date "Hair"
Photo Guide: Pecan "Eyes"
Photo Guide: Baking
The Original Recipe and How I Adapted It
The original recipe for these cookies are on the box. It's called Date Stuffed Spice Balls. You mix up your cookie dough. Then, you cut a date in half and place a pecan half inside the date. Then, you roll the date inside the cookie. Then you bake it for 12 minutes. Then you roll the cookies in sugar.
That sounded so dull and boring, so I changed it up a bit. I took a round ball of dough, flattened it slightly, placed a whole date on it and then started covering the date completely.
I used my garlic press to squeeze the other dates into long strips. I made noodle-like strands that I attached to the one side of the dough ball. Then I poked two pecan pieces in the dough ball next to each other. Voila: a face with hair!
I did not roll my cookies in extra sugar at the end, because I ended up with a sweet date on the inside and outside and did not think it was necessary to coat them with additional sugar.
According to the package, dates contain quite a bit of natural sugar without the extra sugar added.
These Cookies Are So Cute
I have to giggle when I look at them. I'm bringing a pan full of them to work tomorrow to share with my lunch buddies. They'll get a kick out of them, as well.