Date Filled Cookies
Makes 8 to 10 large cookies
Dates and oranges make a lovely flavor pairing. Try flavoring the cookie dough with orange extract or 1/4 teaspoon fiori di sicilia for a delicious variation. You could also add finely chopped nuts such as pistachios or walnuts to the filling; the cookies will be reminiscent of the Middle Eastern sweets called ma'amoul.
Cream together until light and fluffy:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add and mix until completely incorporated:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. While dough chills, make date filling (recipe below).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll half of dough out on a lightly floured counter to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with your favorite Ann Clark Cookie Cutters, then transfer cookies onto cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or silicone liners. Brush lightly with water, then place a generous tablespoon of date filling on each cookie and spread filling to flatten, leaving 1/4 inch border around edges. Roll and cut remaining dough and place cut cookies on filling, pressing it down lightly. With your fingertips, press around edges of cookies to seal. With a paring knife or fork, poke slits through dough to allow steam to escape. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly colored. Let cookies cool slightly on cookie sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar or drizzle with glaze or melted chocolate, if desired.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Deglet noor dates work just as well here as more expensive medjool dates. Be sure to check the dates carefully for any stray pits.
Combine in a medium saucepan:
12 ounces (3 cups) pitted dates
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in:
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place in a food processor and process just until smooth, about 10 seconds. Let cool. Add more water if necessary if mixture is too thick and sticky.