If you are a person who really appreciates a good nibbling cookie (one that doesn’t fall apart or get all crumbly as you munch along), then do yourself a favor and bake up a batch of Rock Cookies this weekend after the Thanksgiving fussing is over! Store them airtight in a cool place, away from heat, and bring them out at Christmas. After a month of mellowing, these cookies will delight your every sense! Rock Cookies, quite simply, rock! This wonderful recipe came from a friend of mama’s, Katie Hinks, but I always think of them as mama’s cookies only as they were always a regular around our house at Christmas time in Marble Hill.
I know the above is true because mama always made her Rocks right after Thanksgiving. Warned NOT to get into them (if we could find them!) it was all I could do to not hunt those cookies down and open every container just to breathe the heavenly scent of the spices and black walnuts! This year, I made Rocks even earlier for a get-together this weekend and I still have been opening the container lids at least once a day. A good whiff of Rock Cookies enhances any, and every day! And don’t let their name fool you, a month of mellowing gives them a soft chewy texture with just a hint of crispness around the edges.
Be sure that your butter is sufficiently softened (and don’t be microwaving it trying to rush things along) so that it creams well with the sugar and eggs when you begin making the cookie dough. The batter becomes stiff once the flour is added and even stiffer with the addition of the dates and the nuts so be prepared to fold well at that point using a rubber spatula or a flat-edged wooden spoon. Fold well so the dates and nuts are evenly distributed in the dough. Using parchment lined cookies sheets makes for easy clean up as well as even browning on the bottom of the cookies.
This is one of my oldest family recipes, and it is definitely one of my cookie favorites. The cutting of the dates is time-consuming so feel free to buy the dates already chopped. If you want them in smaller pieces still, get out your cutting board and have at it. As the cookies mellow, the dates soften and infuse each morsel with date chewiness; combine this texture with the crunch of flavorful black walnuts and you have a definite winner, sure to please everyone around your table. Now IS the time: get your Rocks made for Christmas, folks! I know you’ll thank me and you’re most welcome!
Mama’s Rock Cookies
2 sticks butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2-3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 1 T. boiling water
1 lb. dates, chopped fine
1-1/2 cups black walnuts
Directions Preheat oven to 325. In large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, and eggs, beating with electric mixer until creamed well. In separate bowl, combine flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Stir well with a fork to sift and add to egg mixture, folding well. Add the baking soda mixture and fold all again. Add the dates and nuts folding gently. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto parchment-lined cookie sheets; bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake. After cookies have cooled slightly place in airtight containers and allow flavors to mellow for a month or at least hide them well to give them a chance at mellowing!