If you’re looking for a new spin on and old cookie, this is it. These date cookies are half shortbread, half sugar cookie, but use the sweetness of dates to sub in for half the sugar, and contain anise seed, which gives it a wonderfully unexpected flavor.
You know that feeling where you’re hurtling at warp speed toward a date and you just can’t slow down? That’s me right now - frantically racing to get all the odds and ends wrapped up before we leave for Illinois for the holidays. Work, Christmas shopping, and yes, baking, have been high on my to-do list and I’m slowly whittling it down. Slowly.
I’ve been making cookies to bring home for the holidays for the past couple of weeks now. These chocolate dipped orange and almond shortbread cookies are on the list, as are the always-present sugar cookies we make each and every year. This year I also tried a new recipe for date cookies by the amazing Salma Hage from The Lebanese Kitchen. And if you’re short on time, but still want something a bit different and special, this cookie is for you.
My Dad grew up having date pudding at Christmas every year, and my Mom still regularly makes that for him, but I thought these cookies would be a nice addition. They’re a bit of a mix between a sugar cookie and a drop cookie really – you roll them out and cut them (loosely – leave your intricate cookie cutters for another recipe – these work best with basic shapes), but they still puff up quite a bit.
These date cookies are a bit like a sugar cookie, but don’t use as much sugar (which I love!) since the dates themselves add a lot of sweetness. And they’re also seasoned with ground anise seed, which adds an unexpected, welcome element (especially if you like black licorice.)
The recipe for these date cookies called for the dough to chill overnight, which is the only thing you have to plan ahead for, but I think if you’re short on time you could get away with chilling for an hour or so in the refrigerator until the dough is firm enough to handle and to roll out.
These date cookies are a lovely addition to you holiday sweets table and perfect for you procrastinators who have waited until the last minute to start your baking!
(Recipe from The Lebanese Kitchen, by Salma Hage) Makes about 2 dozen cookies
½ Cup sugar
1 ¾ Cup flour
1 ½ Tablespoon baking powder
1 Cup pitted, dried dates, finely chopped
1 ½ Teaspoon ground anise seed
Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer, or with an electric hand mixer.
Add the egg and continue to beat until well combined.
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Slowly add the flour to the wet ingredients and fold in carefully to combine.
Fold in dates and anise seed until just combined.
Wrap dough in plastic and chill overnight.
When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper or a slip mat.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out onto a floured surface.
Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter (simple shapes work best for these cookies) and place on the baking sheet.
Bake date cookies for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Remove cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.