In the corner of the yellow wallpapered kitchen in the 1970’s ranch style home in which I grew up, there was a tall, brown glass cookie jar. It was rarely filled up with anything sugary, but when it was…it was filled up with amazing cookies like these.
My mom did her best to make sure that we had healthy meals, which meant that we rarely had sweets or dessert. When she did make sweets, she didn’t mess around. She wanted something different and delicious…..enter date-orange softies.
These cookies do not harden and crunch into a thousand pieces when you bite into them. They stay soft and kind to your teeth. It was pointed out to me that they were very much like the top of a muffin in texture. Personally, I just want to slap some clotted cream between two cookies and make a heavenly hand-held sandwich. But, that’s me.
I’ve never made a cookie that has me start out cooking the ingredients BEFORE they go in the oven. Throw all five of the first listed ingredients into a sauce pan under moderately low heat and stir until slightly thickened. Worried that you won’t know when that happens? Let me help you out:
The ‘after’ ends up looking like the consistency of your favorite Thanksgiving giblet gravy.
Now, as soon as you get the image of Thanksgiving giblet gravy cookies out of your mind, we will continue.
Whenever I sift flour, I always put down a sheet of waxed paper underneath the sifter. It seems pretty sanitary and much easier for clean up.
Once you sift and measure out the 1 1/4 cup sifted flour, add it all back to the sifter, with the added salt and baking soda and sift it again. Picking up the wax paper, you can easily dump it into a large bowl.
Pour the cooled down date sauce into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir. Next, add the butterscotch chips. But whatever you do, don’t grab the wrong baggie and dump in an entire bag of whole walnuts by mistake. Then you will have to frantically fish them all out with your fingers before they sink to the bottom of the bowl…all the while wailing ‘nooooooooo!’.
Not that I’d know anything about that or anything.
NOW add the chopped nuts.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on an UNGREASED cookie sheet and place in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
So, this is the tricky part. These are softies, not traditional cookies, so don’t expect them to just pop off the sheet. My first batch came out at 10 minutes, but the next batches I kept them in for the full 12 minutes. They just needed to firm up a bit more. I had to coax them off of the cookie sheet almost as soon as they came out of the oven and place them on cooling racks.
Oh, and if you think you are going to get the best of these cookies and grease the cookie sheet beforehand to try and trick them into slipping off easily, you will not win that battle. Glue, I tell you…it acts like glue.
Ultimately, these cookies are so ‘my mom’ to me. The mixture of dates and nuts and butterscotch, sweetened by orange juice and zest is the kind of unusual, exotic and exciting combination that my mom really loved. Because she was diabetic, she took her sweets seriously and she didn’t waste the few times she could have sugar on something boring and mainstream.
If my mom were a cookie, she’d be a date-orange softie.
- 1 8 oz. package dates, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 c. firmly-packaged brown sugar
- 1/2 c. butter
- 1/2 c. orange juice
- 1 tsp. grated orange rind
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 c. sifted flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 c. butterscotch morsels
- 1 c. chopped nuts
- Cook first 5 ingredients over moderately low heat, stirring constantly till slightly thickened. Cool.
- Beat in eggs.
- Sift flour, salt and soda together in a large bowl and blend in the date sauce.
- Stir in butterscotch morsels, nuts.
- Drop by rounded tablespoons, 2 ” apart, on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove at once from sheets.