Sunday, January 25, 2015

Soft Date Turnover Cookies

Sometimes eating is more for the mind than it is for the stomach. Like a tasteful time machine that brings you back to the good old days. I can't ever resist pear nectar or Glosettes because it makes me feel 9 years old, watching Muppets, cuddled up with a knit blanket on Nonna's couch. Not a care in the world!

And giant wedges of cucumber with salt and pepper is a snack I'd have coming in from the blow-up kiddie pool/garden hose chaos set in the tiny patch of grass among Nonno's grape vines. Cucumber sounds healthy right? It was quickly followed up with an ice cream cone.

These cookies here today remind me of my schoolgirl days. If you know Nutrigrain bars, then you know what I'm talking about. There was always a box in the cupboard, and I often found one in my lunch box.

My version today is made up of a soft oatmeal & coconut cookie dough with a sweet, smooth date filling. The coconut is key - it's subtle, but I can always remember that flavour being there.

I love really dates. Most of the time they remind me of old people (same with prunes), but the secret is that I really like them (and prunes!).

We can bake with dates and still be hip and cool and modern. Check it:
There's traditional: Orange Date & Almond Biscotti
There's hardy and satisfying: Date Apricot & Pecan Seed Loaf
Something for morning tea: Dark Chocolate & Tangerine Date Scones
We've got decadence: Intensely Chocolate Fudgey Biscotty with Dates & Almonds
Classic sweet treats: Gingerbread Spice Date Cakes

We start the cookie dough part just like we would make a typical oatmeal cookie dough, except with much less sugar. The reason for adding less sugar is not just in regard to the sweetness of the date filling, but to keep the dough soft. The higher proportion of fat (butter) to sugar will do this. Not chewy - just soft. In a traditional oatmeal cookie, there would be at least twice this amount of sugar to make them moist and chewy.

These are better the next day, the day after that, and even the day after that.

The cookies soften as they keep in an airtight container and become that true turnover cookie texture.

They kinda look like tacos. The filling is not beef I swear. Like when Rachel from Friends made that trifle with layers of custard, jam, peas and ground beef. {"It tastes like feet!"}

If this recipe doesn't feed your mind, at least let it feed your stomach because they're bloody delicious. Love 'em up!

Soft Date Turnover Cookies
Makes 18-20 cookies

For the filling:
1 cup (150g) dates, chopped
1 tbsp honey
½ cup water
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

For the dough:
½ cup butter
1/3 cup (75g) brown sugar 
1 tbsp honey
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (100g) quick oats
¼ cup desiccated coconut

Place chopped dates, water and honey in saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 8-10 minutes until dates break down. Mash it up with a wooden spoon until it looks like a thick paste. Stir through cinnamon and salt. Set aside to cool completely.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla and beat until combined. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and whisk to blend evenly. Add to butter mixture with oats and coconut. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper.

Roll dough to 1 to 1.5-inch balls and place on prepared baking trays, spacing them 3 inches apart. Use the palm of your hand to smear or flatten each ball into a 2.5-inch disk. Spoon a teaspoon of date filling into the center of each disk and then gently fold up once side of the dough onto itself, using a butterknife to help if it is sticking. Or, flatten each dough ball in your palm, spoon some filling in the middle and fold the dough over (like filling a dumpling). Bake about 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

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