I freely admit that I am not a baker. This may have been my forte, say, ten or twelve years ago, but now I adhere to the more free-form Italian cooking style of “a dash or this” and “a handful of that.” If you have ever heard the oft-repeated phrase “baking is a science,” you will realize why my cooking style and baking do not often find themselves competing for attention in my kitchen.
However, as the holidays approach, so does the time of cookies and cakes. Though I had completely abandoned baking years ago due to an oven that made even simple chocolate chip cookies a hit or miss affair, I have tried to take up again with this mysterious mistress who is steadfast for some and extremely fickle for others.
So far, despite my decidedly unscientific approach to baking, the trials have been successful on the whole. These cookies however, have been my favorite. I think they are practically impossible to mess-up, but rather open to many interpretations on a theme – all of which I have found to be incredibly delicious, and I hope that you come to the same conclusion.
Serves: your entire extended family (makes about 40 cookies)
Prep-time: 5 minutes day before + 1 hour to 1 hour and a half, depending on number of baking sheets needed to cook all the cookies (15 minutes active)
Adapted from December 2008 Bon Appetit
- dried cherries
- dried currents
- 5-6 dates
- golden raisins
- normal raisins
- sherry (not too dry, oloroso is best)
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- 1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
- one egg
- ~1 inch diameter baking cups, paper or foil
- Chop and pit the dates and add to a medium sized bowl.
- Add a medium/small handful of each of the other dried fruits to bowl.
- Cover dried fruits with 4 tablespoons each of brandy and sherry.
- Mix to coat and let stand overnight, stirring whenever you walk by and adding addition liquor if the fruits look they are not appropriately covered.
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Roughly chop 1/2-3/4 cup of walnuts and add to dried fruits.
- Add 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg to a medium-sized bowl and whisk or sift to combine.
- In a large bowl, combine butter, half a cup of sugar, and the egg.
- Fold in the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine.
- Add two additional tablespoons each of sherry and bourbon to batter and then fold in the fruit and walnuts.
- Carefully spoon the mixture into you baking cups and place the cups 3/4-1 inch apart on baking sheets. I find it better to fill enough cups for one sheet and refrigerate the rest of the batter while the first batch cookies than to spoon them all out at once.
- Bake one sheet at a time until cookies brown. Check after twenty minutes in the oven, although they can take up to thirty, depending on the over.
- The cookies are great warm, but continue to delight for a whole week when stored in a sealed plastic bag at room temperature. Storing in the fridge will cause them to harden.