These chewy date cookies are baked in a pan, cut like bars, and then rolled in confectioners’ sugar to give them a pleasant and unusual knobby shape. These have a cracked, crunchy top, are packed full of dates and walnuts, and keep extremely well, which is great during the holidays. What is also Christmasy about them is that the first time I made them as a child was during the holiday season when I was looking through cookbooks for a cookie that was different from all the others—this fits the bill.
Lifespan: 3 weeks at room temperature in airtight container
Field notes: I have seen many recipes that are similar in that they have an abundance of dates, nuts, eggs, and sugar but very little flour. For some reason, they are sometimes called Chinese chews, perhaps because dates are associated with that area of the world. Chinese dates, or jujubes, are a fruit with many similarities to the dates that we know.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together
Equipmentelectric mixer, food processor
Meallunch, snack, tea
Taste and Texturechewy, nutty, sweet
Type of Dishcookie, dessert
- 1 cup packed pitted dates
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup walnut halves
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray.
Place dates and flour in food processor. Pulse to combine, then process until dates are finely chopped. Scrape mixture into a large bowl. Add nuts to food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add date-flour mixture back to processor along with baking powder and salt and quickly pulse to break up sticky dates and create a uniform mixture.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla together until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add about one third of date-flour mixture and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining date-flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Scrape into baking pan, spreading evenly.
Bake until an even light golden brown all over, about 40 minutes; toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Place pan on rack to cool for 5 minutes. Cut into 36 bars (6 × 6) while still warm. Place confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Roll each square in it to coat completely while still warm, shaping the squares into rough barrel shapes as you go. Each cookie will be a unique, rustic shape. Place each cookie on rack to cool completely.
2003 Dede Wilson