It's the peak of cookie baking and consumption, and ovens everywhere are working overtime. With Christmas just a few days away, you're probably in really deep. Cookie sheets are in high rotation. You've made a lot of sugary cookies, decorative icing, plus gingerbread spiced cookies, thumbprints with glistening centers of jam, and chocolate in all forms.
How about date bars for something different? The classic bar cookie with a jam of sweet dates between layers of crumbly oats and cinnamon is perfect for the holidays, and yet you don't see it enough.
Danny's mom mentioned a couple months ago that her mother used to make them, and they've been on my mind ever since. I couldn't remember ever trying a date bar, but it sounded like my kind of cookie.
The preparation is simple. I pitted the luscious, soft dates and soon our home was fragrant with the aroma of cinnamon and butter melting into oats. Our home was instantly and wonderfully cozy, as it should be on these earlier nights.
Consider adding the date bar to your Christmas cookie collection. A fresh batch of the crumbly cookies would be ideal for Christmas morning, especially with a cup of coffee. Or save it for dessert. Gently warm a date bar and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you go the ice cream route for breakfast, then I believe you're doing December very well.
I may stir in some chopped walnuts with the oats next time. Freshly grated nutmeg would be a welcome addition, but if you haven't yet, try a simple and classic version first. The holidays are also fairly nostalgic times, and a solid, old-fashioned cookie is a good companion.
Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend, Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at [email protected]