I was baking cookies during a vacation day on Tuesday, when a shade of Cedar Sanderson gave me a wonderful idea. I wasn’t exactly baking cookies — these were more of a cooked cookie — and I was rolling the cookies into neat balls, admiring how they looked, when I realized I could do a blog on making the cookies. I just needed to take pictures to go along with it. Fortunately, I had this thought while making the first of three batches, so I had two more batches where I could take the pictures.
I like to make these cookies every year at Christmas time. I first made them as a kid. My Grammy Robords, Gladys Robords, introduced me and my two siblings to these cookies as something we could help make. I didn’t like coconut at the time, but I ate them because I made them, and didn’t mind the coconut as much as I thought. It was fun to butter our hands and handle the hot cookie dough and roll it into balls.
Grammy Robords was a very educated, elegant, practical and loving woman. We always got the best educational toys from her (the ones that were also fun to play with), and we always had special moments with her, special weekends.
She and Grandpa Robords were snowbirds with a place in Florida, and they always left a couple weeks before Christmas. So Santa always came to their place before they left. We always got two Christmases, one with them, and one at home on Christmas day.
I still carry those memories, even though my times with here were brief. She was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was 11, and died not long after my 12th birthday. My one regret them was that I didn’t get a chance to see her one last time.
These days I make the cookies by myself, but always think of my grandmother when I make them. Unlike me and my siblings, my kids don’t find these fun to make. Apparently I have a higher tolerance for heat than they do. None of them can stand to roll the hot dough into balls.
So, now that I’ve given the long introduction, I am going to give you the recipe. After that, I’ll give my narration, with pictures, of how I actually make the cookies.
Date Cocunt Cookies
1/4 pound butter
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
Mix and simmer in fry pan until chick (about 5 minutes). The add 1 cup chopped nuts, two cups rice crispies.
Cool until manageable.Roll into balls (butter your hands) roll in coconut.
You have to work FAST!
And Now, how I actually make the cookies.
First thing, make sure you have all the ingredients before you start!
I lay out all the ingredients, along with cooking implements. In past years I would cook them all in a a large 6-quart pot and make a quadruple or sextuple batch. But this year I decided to make 3 double batches and do them in the 3-quart sauce pan that goes along with our precision induction cooker.
I added to the cooker the first ingredients: the butter, the dates, the sugar, the vanilla and the eggs.
Once the ingredients are in the saucepan, I stir until they melt into a sauce and come to a boil. I have found that a temperature of 300 degrees is perfect for getting the right sort of simmer.
In the past I always was uncertain when the mixture had thickened enough. But over the past few years I have confirmed that if you make sure it is actually simmering before you start timing, that 5 minutes is enough time to get it thickened and ready for the next stage.
The next stage is to mix the rice crispies and nuts into the mixture. It has been several years since I’ve actually used nuts. Some people don’t like them, and they are more expensive, so we have tended to leave them out and just add extra rice crispies instead.
I try to make sure to turn the mixture over several times, but no matter how thoroughly I mix them in, there always ends up a spot that doesn’t get as many Rice Crispies and is gooier than the rest.
Once you get the mixture thoroughly combined, the next step is to butter your hands so you can take small amounts of the hot mixture and roll them into balls. I have taken to using a stick of butter, and running my hands along it gently, then rubbing my hands together to spread it out. I add the lightest bit of butter between each ball, and the stick lasts a long time, and my hands stay sufficiently greased so the hot mixture doesn’t stick to them. If it does stick, you can burn yourself, so this is important.
The recipe says to roll the balls in the coconut, but I have discovered it is just as easy to place the ball in the bowl of coconut and sprinkle coconut over it. When I try to roll them in the coconut they are more likely to fall apart and lose their shape.
Once each cookie is rolled in the coconut I place it on a sheet of waxed paper to let it finish cooling and setting up before packing them away in containers to store until they are ready to serve up.