This past holiday season I baked cookies but was never able to do up what I’d call a Christmas tray of them. There was just too much going on at work and at home to be able to spend a couple of consecutive days baking cookies.
Instead I get a batch of one kind done and by the time several days later I was able to make a batch of a different type of cookie the first batch was long gone. Chocolate chip, date pinwheels, and now a New Hampshire Fruit Cookie. I found the recipe in the New England Cookbook of “300 Fine Old Recipes.” I had come across the book on one of our stops several years back in Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts.
I’ve never really liked fruit cake so it’s not something I have ever wanted to make. My grandmother made a dark fruit cake, soaked in rum. Mom made a lighter one with rum. Neither tempted me to want to keep on that tradition.
However, I do enjoy dates, raisins, currants, apricots, etc. in baked goods. On my list of still to make cookies are raisin-filled and mincemeat-filled. There will also be a second batch of date pinwheels made as they are one of my favorites from when mom made them. The recipe is listed as being written down in 1945 but I don’t have a clue where it came from. It would have had to have been my great grandmother’s or grandmother’s recipe as Mom would only have been 10 years old.
Anyhow, with not really enjoying fruit cake I was looking for a substitute cake or cookie that I might find tastier. My eyes landed on the fruit cookie recipe because it had fruit in its name but also because it was listed as coming from a New England state. With Dad being from Massachusetts I figured it was a sign that the recipe would be a good one.
It was fairly simple in its ingredients – flour, sugar, baking soda, butter, eggs, cinnamon, walnuts, currants and raisins. The cookies when baked had a light cinnamon taste, with the crunch and flavor of walnuts, and a little chewiness and moistness from the raisins and currants. The real test, however, that made me decide to add these to my Christmas cookie list each year was that even messing up the recipe slightly they still turned out moist and flavorful.
I caught the mistake before baking even the sample cookies – the one or two you bake first to make sure there’s enough flour and the dough isn’t spreading out too far.
I had the sugar and butter creamed, the baking soda dissolved in hot water, the eggs beaten and all three mixed together. I had sifted the flour and cinnamon three times and had added half of it to the batter. I chopped up walnuts, currants and golden raisins and then mixed them in with the remaining flour. I poured that in with the already mixed dough and mixed it well together. As I was going to make my sample cookie, I happened to notice a stick of unopened butter on the counter. That’s when it hit me. The recipe called for a cup of butter – two sticks – but I had only added one. A quick Google search was no help in telling me if I added the other stick to the already mixed dough if it would be OK or would it cause the dough to run and flatten. I decided take the risk and add the stick of butter. The sample cookies turned out wonderful. I may have had a little too much butter in one or two of the dropped cookies that did flatten out some but for the most part the cookies came out looking like cookies and tasting wonderful.
New Hampshire Fruit Cookies
From New England Cookbook
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 1/4 cups flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cups currants, chopped
1/2 cups raisins, chopped
Cream butter and sugar together. Add well beaten eggs as well as the soda dissolved in water.
Shift flour and cinnamon together three times.
Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
Mix the remaining flour with the nuts, currants and raisins. Blend all ingredients together, mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoon fulls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes at 340˚.
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For those loving dates, these cookies are good anytime of the year:
DATE PINWHEEL COOKIES
2 1/4 cups chopped dates
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
4 cups sifted flour
1/3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Mix the first three ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over low heat about 10 minutes. Add nuts and remove from heat and allow mixture to cool and thicken some.
In a bowl, cream the brown sugar and butter, add eggs, beat well.
Add the dry ingredients and mix well. (I usually mix the salt and baking soda with the flour before adding it to the wet ingredients.)
Chill the dough thoroughly. Divide into two parts and roll out each piece until about 1/4 inch thick. Spread each roll with half the filling and roll like a jelly roll. Chill rolls over night. Slice with a sharp knife and put slices on a cookie sheet (I place aluminum foil on my cookie sheets so they don’t get as messy with the filling. Bake in a hot oven (350˚) about 10 minutes until nice and brown. Remove from cookie sheet with a serving spatula and let cool on wire rack.
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On another note, I just want to remind everyone that the deadline for sending a wedding photo in to our bridal magazine is Monday. Anyone who is celebrating this year or celebrated last year their 25, 30, 35, 40, etc. wedding anniversary is invited to submit their wedding photo to be published for free in our magazine this month. Please provide your name and town of residence. Photos can be emailed to each of our four sister newspapers: Courier Express at email@example.com; Jeffersonian Democrat at firstname.lastname@example.org; The Progress at email@example.com or The Leader-Vindicator at firstname.lastname@example.org.