With flavor and a pleasant stickiness reminiscent of caramel, plump, moist dates are as sweet as candy and we thought they would make a delicious filling for cookies. We cooked the dates with some water, a little sugar, and a generous amount of nuts for a filling that stayed put. We then paired our filling with a soft, cake-like cookie, spreading the filling over the dough and then rolling it up for a spiraled appearance. Using brown sugar in place of half of the white sugar in our dough contributed a subtle molasses note that perfectly underscored the caramel flavor of the dates. Plus, the brown sugar added moisture and softness to the dough. Three eggs gave our cookies the cakey crumb we were looking for. We used a sheet of parchment to help guide the soft dough as we rolled it into a log to prevent it from sticking or tearing. Plan ahead for these cookies: The dough needs time to fully chill twice. If the dough becomes soft when rolling or slicing the cookies, return it to the refrigerator until firm. Be sure to grease the parchment paper so these soft cookies don’t stick.
- Yield: 32 cookies
- 1¾ cups walnuts or pecans, chopped fine
- 9 ounces pitted dates, chopped fine (1½ cups)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
- 3½ cups (17½ ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed (7 ounces) brown sugar
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling
- Combine walnuts, dates, water, and sugar in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool completely, about 1 hour. For the dough
- Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, and mix until just combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer dough to counter and divide in half. Form each half into 6-inch square, wrap squares tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Roll 1 dough square into 13 by 9-inch rectangle on large sheet of floured parchment. Spread half of cooled filling evenly over dough. With long side facing you, use parchment to roll dough into log. Wrap log tightly with parchment and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and grease parchment. Working with 1 log at a time, slice dough into ½-inch-thick rounds and space them 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake until tops are golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Slide cookies, still on parchment, onto wire rack. Repeat with second dough log. Let cookies cool completely before serving.