I love to make elegant pastries but when I visit my family in Maine I always want desserts from childhood. These date filled cookies fill the bill! The cookies are soft and tender and I make sure to put as much filling as possible in each cookie!
by volume by weight
4 cups chopped dates 450 grams chopped dates
2 cups water 480 grams water
1 cup sugar 198 grams sugar
1 teaspoon salt 4 grams salt
1/2 cup softened butter 113 grams softened butter
1/2 cup lard 105 grams lard
1/2 cup sugar 99 grams sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar 99 grams brown sugar
1 large egg 68 grams eggs
1/4 cup milk 60 grams milk
1 tablespoon vanilla 12 grams vanilla
1 teaspoon salt 4 grams salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3 grams baking soda
3 cups all purpose flour 360 grams all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar 125 grams powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water 28 grams water
Cream the butter, lard and sugars together until light.
Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and mix to combine.
Whisk the dry ingredients together and add to the creamed butter mixture. Mix just until a soft dough forms.
Form the dough into a flat square, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the filling, combine all of the filling ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Boil for approximately 10 minutes until the dates begin to break down and the mixture becomes thick. Let the mixture cool completely before filling the cookies.
Heat the oven to 375F. Roll the dough out to less than 1/8 inch thick. Be sure to move the dough regularly on the surface because the dough will stick easily to the counter top. The dough is fragile so work with some patience! It will be worth it!
Cut circles the size of your desired cookie. Larger cookies tend to give a better filling to dough ratio but these can also be made bite sized as well. My cookies are 3 inches in diameter.
Place a generous amount of filling on each cookie base. (My cookies have 1½ tablespoons of filling each.)
Dip your finger in water and wet the edge of each cookie to help the circles of dough stick together.
Cover the filling with a second circle of dough and press lightly with your hand to distribute the filling.
Gently press the edges of the cookies together to seal. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges of the cookies are light and golden. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the glaze ingredients together until smooth.
Brush the tops of the warm cookies with the glaze. The glaze will set hard enough for the cookies to be stacked.
It is hard to improve on these date filled cookies! A teaspoon of lemon zest added to the filling gives a nice contrast to the filling. A teaspoon of either cinnamon or allspice gives a nice warmth to the filling, particularly in the winter and a cup of finely chopped pecans or walnuts will please the people who love nuts!
If you don’t like the idea of using lard, shortening can be used instead. Butter can also be used for all of the fat but the cookies will not be as soft. The texture will be a bit crispier but they will have a wonderful, buttery flavor!