Monday, February 4, 2013

Oatmeal Date Cookies

My husband called from the hospital on Thursday night. I didn't make the drive to visit him that day because I had a few things I needed to do to prepare for him coming home on Saturday.

"Are you busy?" he said.

I was thinking he was asking whether I had time to talk for a while. But no, he wasn't being chatty. He wanted me to make cookies to bring to the staff.

Duh! I should have thought of it!

Of course I should bring goodies to the staff.

Instead of creating a new cookie recipe (because, seriously, I couldn't risk a failure) I thought it was wiser to use a tested recipe. Or at least adapt one.

So I started thinking about what I had on hand. Flour, of course. I had chocolate chips, but I didn't think it was enough for a big batch of cookies. So what else... oatmeal! I knew I had plenty of oatmeal on hand. And I have plenty of dried fruit. I thought about adding cherries, but then changed my mind and went with dates.

I figured that a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies would be perfect. I'd just substitute the dates for the raisins.

I pulled out one of my trusty cookie books, 1001 Cookie Recipes by Gregg R. Gillespie. The great thing about this book is that no matter what type of cookie you're looking for, you'll probably find several versions. And there are photos of the cookies, so you can choose by that rather than reading ingredients and descriptions.

I wanted a bumpy oatmeal cookie. And - hey - I found one that actually called for dates. How weird is that? Of course, I changed a few things. Because that's how I am.

Oatmeal Date Cookies
Adapted from 1001 Cookie Recipes by Gregg R. Gillespie

1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon butter vanilla emulsion (or vanilla extract)
3 cups rolled oats
1 8-ounce package chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Or, four cookie sheets, if you have them and you don't want to wait for the first cookie sheets to cool between batches.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir well.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening, brown sugar, and sugar. (You can also do this in a bowl with a hand mixer.)

Beat in the egg, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla emulsion or extract.

Gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in the oatmeal and dates (You can do this with the stand mixer on low speed. If you used a hand mixer, you'll probably need to stir in the oats and dates by hand.)

Using a tablespoon-sized scoop or a spoon, portion dough onto the cookie sheets, leaving room between them to spread.

Bake at 350 degrees for 14-18 minutes (depending on the size of the cookies) until they are lightly browned.

Let them cool for a minute on the cookie sheet, then move them to racks to cool. Bake the remaining cookies the same way.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.