What a nice treat to come back to work from a long weekend and be handed a cookie.
My co-worker, Josefina Villicaña Casati, who runs the Ahora Si newspaper, loves to cook, and over the weekend, she made these date and pecan cookies that she first made last fall. It’s a recipe from the New York Times’ much-debated “United States of Thanksgiving” package in 2014. I’m not a huge fan of dates, but I’m definitely happy to eat a cookie for breakfast.
At first bite, I knew I wasn’t eating any old cookie. This super soft cookie reminded me of a muffin top — not *that* kind of muffin top, silly. I’m not sure if it was the dates, pecans or just-right chewy texture, but they tasted healthier than they probably are, which also made me think of muffins. Seriously, I just came off of a season of eating cookies, and I hadn’t had any cookies like this.
The original recipe called for walnuts, but I always pick pecans over walnuts. You could use raisins instead of dates, but, boy, the dates were tender and flavorful here.
Date and Pecan Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup soft unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. baking soda
4 cups chopped pitted dates
4 cups chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line one or more baking sheets with parchment. Place flour in a bowl and whisk in the salt, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
Cream butter and brown sugar together by hand or in an electric mixer. Beat in eggs. The mixture will not be smooth. Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon hot water and stir it in. Stir in the dates and nuts. The batter will be heavy and not easy to mix. Work in the flour mixture, about a third at a time. If your electric mixer has a dough hook, use it for working in the flour.
Scoop heaping teaspoons of batter onto prepared baking sheet or sheets, making craggy mounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Space them about 1 1/2 inches apart; the cookies will not spread very much. (Alternatively, for neater cookies, you can roll the batter into balls between your palms, then lightly press them down with the back of a spoon or the tines of a fork.) Allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking. Depending on the size of your oven and your baking sheets, you can form the cookies ready to bake on sheets of parchment paper on your countertop, then transfer them to baking sheets in shifts.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Let cool, then dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar. If you plan to freeze some of the cookies, do not dust them with confectioners’ sugar; wait until after they thaw. Makes about 5-6 dozen cookies.
— Adapted from a recipe in “Treasured Recipes Old and New 1975,” a community cookbook by the Schuyler-Brown Homemakers Extension in Iowa Falls