This is a nostalgic recipe that has always been made on holiday occasions throughout my childhood. And it is yet another delicious recipe passed down by my grandmother. The original name for this cookie was "Awful Good Cookies", scribbled on a cue card, without exact baking measurements for several of the ingredients. No exact directions. And no formula for the elusive date jam )you were just supposed to remember how to make it). The very best kind of recipe, in other words. And certainly one I was determined would not be lost in time.
Growing up, my grandparents had a wood burning oven in their kitchen until they moved out of their house around 1989. Recipes were made with modest ingredient, using staples that you would have on hand in your pantry when you needed them.
My family often made these cookies at Christmas, and some years on Valentine's Day, but always on special occasions during the winter months for a bit of festivity and that decadent mix of flavours between the molasses cookies with the rich date jam. The hardest part about making these was having the cookies last long enough to actually make it to becoming sandwich cookies. They are delicious on their own, and would often get snatched off the cooling racks before they ever made it to becoming a delicious jam filled treat!
When I found this recipe and and began retesting it, I was curious to know if there was anything like this out there already, and while there are some similar recipes, none are exact. The closest resemblance to this cookie that I could find was a post on Newfoundland Jam Jam Cookies, which look delicious as well, but they use pre-made jam in the centre. I have to say, though, that there is something absolutely irresistible and festive about having the date filling coupled with the molasses cookies that make these so lovely and such a special treat.
Do you have any holiday recipes passed down in your family that are nostalgic to you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Old Fashioned Molasses & Date Jam Sandwich Cookies
Preparation Time: 15 minutes (dough) and cutting cookies
Baking Time: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 6 to 6 1/2 dozen (producing about 40-46 sandwich cookies when assembled in pairs)
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup fancy molasses
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 4 cups flour, or enough to make the dough stiff
Date Jam Ingredients:
- 2 cups chopped dates
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 320F. Prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Blend the butter and white sugar together until smooth.
- Mix in the molasses, egg and vanilla into the blended sugar and butter. (TIP: grease your measuring cup with canola or vegetable oil that you are measuring the molasses in, and it will slide right out!)
- Dissolve the baking soda into the hot water in a small dish. Then, mix it into the rest of the cookie batter.
- Blend in 4 cups of flour until fully combined and dough is firm enough to be rolled out and for the cookies to be cut out. If it is still sticky, add a bit more flour.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/8 inch thick. (Remember: You don't want the cookies to be too thick as they will rise a bit, and they will become sandwich cookies.)
- Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into various shapes. (Remember: cut shapes in "pairs" as you will need two cookies to make a sandwich with when they are completed.)
- Place cookies on prepared baking sheets and bake at 320F for 11-14 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottom. Let cookies fully cool.
- Place the dates, water and brown sugar together in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and then let simmer until the dates are soft and can be mashed with a fork.
- Continue to simmer until the mixture becomes a thick, jam-like consistency for spreading. Allow date jam to fully cool.
- Spread a thin layer of date jam between two cookies. Stick them together as a sandwich cookie. Enjoy!