Oatmeal, Date and Raisin Spice Cookies

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    Mike Nolan

      This is a recipe my wife's mother (Catherine McDonald) made, but we don't know where it originated. These are best made a day or two ahead of time and stored in an air tight tin or cookie jar. They will keep for several weeks, but usually don't last that long.

      Yield: Approximately 60 cookies about 2 inches in diameter

      1 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water for at least 5 minutes then drained (save the water, see below)
      1/2 cup chopped dates (easier to cut with a wet knife)
      (If dates are dry, it helps to soak them in hot water before cutting them and then add them to the soaking raisins.)
      1 cup chopped nuts (pecan or walnut)
      1 cup granulated sugar
      1 cup shortening
      2 eggs, beaten
      2 cups all-purpose flour
      2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
      1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
      6 tablespoons raisin water
      1 teaspoon vanilla

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

      Cream shortening and sugar.
      Combine eggs with sugar/shortening and add vanilla.
      Sift dry ingredients together, mixing before adding oatmeal.
      Alternate adding dry ingredients and raisin water to eggs/sugar/shortening.
      Add raisins, dates and nuts.

      Use a #60 scoop to portion, flatten balls slightly on a silpat or greased cookie sheet, 2 1/2 - 3 inches apart.
      Bake for 10-15 minutes until bottom edges are lightly brown.
      Allow to set for several minutes before moving from sheet to cooling rack.

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        This looks delicious. The recipe calls for shortening not butter or lard; would that date the recipe to around WW II? Also its not as horribly sweet as some modern recipes.

        Mike Nolan

          My mother's oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe also uses shortening instead of butter. (I don't remember her ever doing anything with lard.) So the 40's and 50's post-war era seems likely.


            According to Youtuber, Glen and Friends (he does a lot of research on old recipes, both baking and cooking) the term shortening originally meant any fat. Solid fat if my memory serves me right.

            Mike Nolan

              McGee explains the science behind this.

              Shortening refers to using a large amount of fat (relative to the flour) to saturate and thus shorten the gluten chains, as opposed to kneaded breads which develop long gluten chains into a network. The absence of long gluten chains makes the baked product more crumbly.

              Traditionally, the fats used for shortening are any animal or vegetable fat that is solid at room temperature, though liquid oil-based products also exhibit the shortening of gluten chains by fat saturation, but a liquid fat is more likely to be absorbed by the starch, so it is trickier to work with.

              Solid vegetable shortening was developed early in the 20th century as a shelf-stable replacement for animal fats.


                Oops. Posted in wrong section. I moved it to the correct one.

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