Monday, October 3, 2016

Oatmeal Date Cookies

I never really know how to introduce posts about a new cookie recipe. Most of them don’t have a good story or even a good excuse. Usually, a new cookie recipe comes to these pages because I love cookies and wanted to try some new ones.

And this recipe was one I’ve been wanting to try for quite a long time. Finally, I got the chance, and I’m so excited! They’re kicked-up oatmeal cookies loaded with sweet, sticky dates and fragrant, spicy cardamom. It’s a fabulous combination, delicious and exotic, but still familiar and comforting, like an oatmeal cookie should be.

To get my cardamom for these cookies, I cracked open whole cardamom pods, extracted the tiny, dark seeds, and ground those seeds in a spice grinder (really just a coffee grinder designated for spice grinding.) I cannot recommend this way of enjoying cardamom enough. Those freshly ground seeds have a perfume and flavor so far beyond that of a can of cardamom that has already been ground that they’re practically different foods. I never had a clue what a joy cardamom could really be until I made the effort to deal with it in this way.

While I really think the cardamom is extra-special with the caramel-y dates, you wouldn’t have to use it if you didn’t want to. Cinnamon would be fine in its place, or even Pumpkin Pie Spice. It is that time of year!

Once you have the cardamom prepared and the dates pitted and chopped, these are just as easy to make as any drop cookie. And like my other favorite drop cookies, I like to chill the dough for these for at least a couple hours (and up to 2 days). I just feel like my cookies come out better when I do that. If you don’t have time you can skip that step. Just don’t skip out on a chance to try the wonderful sweet and spicy combination of dates and cardamom in oatmeal cookies!

Oatmeal Date Cookies with Cardamom
Adapted from Fine Cooking magazine

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups chopped, pitted dates

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Whisk together to combine well.

2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat on medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well-combined.

3. Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the oats and the dates. Cover the dough well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to two days.

4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. Scoop the dough in heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Gently flatten the dough balls.

5. Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges and set in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and cool on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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