Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Date Icebox Cookies

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes from my Grandma's recipe box: Date Icebox Cookies. Sometimes, I call them pinwheels because I love pinwheels (in cookie and decorative form), but she called them icebox cookies so I will, too. I've wanted to add these to the formal Sweet & Simple menu from day one... It's gonna happen one of these days! I'm thinking about 3-5 icebox cookie flavors at the moment. Decisions. Decisions. And all of them delicious!

What exactly is an icebox cookie? Pretty simple. A soft cookie dough that has been rolled and shaped into a log, jelly-roll-style, to firm it up and make it easier to work with... Then, instead of rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters, you just slice-and-bake your dough. Intrigued? Here's a mega collection of 27 icebox cookie recipes from Martha Stewart to keep you busy in the kitchen. 

Several people have asked me for the Date Icebox Cookie recipe because they are featured in my blog banner.  And I'm happy to share! You can see I love them so much they've been in both of my "big" photo shoots for the site. This one (below) by Melani Lust and styled by Sandra Downie

Date Icebox Cookies

Makes: approx 4 1/2 dozen cookies (depending on thickness of cookies)

2 cups/270 grams/9.5 ounces unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup/112 grams/4 ounces butter
1/2 cup/110 grams/3.9 ounces light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar/100 grams/3.5 ounces

1 large egg, beaten

228 grams/8 ounces chopped dates (about 2 cups whole dates)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Sift twice together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine dates and sugars and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes (the mixture will look like a thick jam when done). If your dates are very dry and the mixture looks more like a paste, add water 1 teaspoon at a time to loosen the mixture slightly.

Remove the date mixture from heat and cool completely.

When date mixture is completely cool, use a spatula and fold in 1/2 cup toasted and finely chopped walnuts and set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until lightened in texture and color. Add the beaten egg and beat the mixture again until the egg is thoroughly incorporated.

Add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Turn out the dough on a floured silpat or suitable work surface (sometimes I use wax paper), gently shape it into a rectangle with your hands and then with a rolling pin roll it about 1/4” thick in the shape of a rectangle.

Spread the cooled, cooked date/walnut mixture on it evenly (I use a small offset spatula but a butter knife will work just as well) and then using both your hands, gently roll it lengthwise into a log.
(If you want some pro tips on working with this kind of cookie dough, check out this King Arthur Flour post.)

Wrap the log in plastic wrap and chill overnight or at least 8 hours.

To bake off the cookies, line 3 sheet pans with parchment, preheat oven to 375°, unwrap log and using a serrated knife cut the log in 1/4” (you can go a bit thicker if you like, but if you go thinner they are likely to fall apart as you transfer them to the sheet pans) cookies and place them on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until light brown in color and slightly puffed.

Date Icebox Cookies.
(Photo by Hadley Spagna Photography)
The cookies in the picture above came from the recipe box in the picture below. The first recipe I ever made from Grandma's recipe box was for Tamale Pie (the same recipe that was part of the family dinner rotation growing up), this was the second and I've made no significant modifications to it. I even passed on adding a splash of vanilla. Shocking. I know.

Grandma's recipe box with Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies.
(Photo by Hadley Spagna Photography)