Sweet Holiday Surprises
Word of the Week
Medjool Dates (med-jewl-dates): A sweet fruit from Morocco and the Middle East. Medjool is Arabic and translates to “unknown”, meaning that they are unsure of the exact origin of this variety of the date. What a mystery! Not familiar with dates? Read on!
I don’t know about you, but I’m in full holiday happy mode now. It’s been such a strange year. I’m happy that I’ve had a chance to revisit some of my very favorite annual traditions.
So what do medjool dates have to do with my traditions? EVERYTHING. Let’s start by discussing what a date is. A date is a stone fruit. In other words, it’s a fruit that has a single seed inside it and is surrounded by the part that we actually eat. Can you think of any other stone fruits? I’ll give you a hint. There’s a popular, summer time fruit that’s fuzzy on the outside. Yes, peaches! Mangoes and olives, too.
But, back to the date. Dates grow on date palm trees. Close your eyes and imagine a palm tree, but add big bunches and bunches of dates to the tree. Wow! Dates are also known for being particularly sweet and great for baking (HINT HINT).
Holiday baking is my absolute favorite thing to do! I remember my Nonna baking all kinds of treats around Christmas time. Why not share one of my favorite family recipes? Date cookies!
Now, dates do come from the Middle East, so you may be wondering why a date cookie is one of my Italian family’s favorite cookies. Easy! Because there are so many other wonderful cultures to learn about. Why limit ourselves? Traditional date cookies are usually stuffed so that you don’t see the dates. Not everyone has the write baking tools, so my family found their very own recipe that can work for everyone. I’m going to share some pictures below of the process, but the actual recipe is shared as a PDF at the end of this week’s blog.
Your dates are going to start out like this! I always make sure to buy dates that are already pitted. Who needs that extra step?
Once you complete your date filling on the stovetop, it should look something like this. A sticky and splendid mixture! Like my spatula? It was a gift from years ago. And I believe every single word.
Once your filling is all done, get to work on that dough! The details are in the recipe, but make sure to role each of the four balls you make get rolled into long rectangles, like this. I also recommend breaking out your favorite Christmas mug to sip a toasty beverage from while you roll. Embrace everything holiday!
Next, you're going to spread your filling onto the rolled out dough so it looks something like this. Don't worry if it's not perfect! You want the filling close to the edges, but be sure to leave your long, top edge emptier to seal the cookie.
Roll the cookie dough into a log, like this. I intentionally picked this one to share, because it's not perfect- but it is perfect! These will also bake just fine. Once rolled, wrap it carefully in plastic wrap and place on a cookie tray in the refrigerator or freezer to chill. You'll cut slices from the log when you're ready to bake your cookies. I think this roll made about 20 cookies!
Voila! The perfect spin on a medjool date cookie. Helpful hint: If you roll your dough a little thicker, the cookies look more like a spiral. I've always just liked the filling too much to go light on it!
Enjoy this different, unique cookie recipe for years to come!