Monday, March 29, 2010

COOKIE DISASTERS

Several years ago I purchased a HUGE cookie cookbook at Border's. It was on sale but it was a lovely book, capable of being a coffeetable book with lovely photos of nearly all of the recipes. So they said.....

Once in a while I get the urge to try out a new cookie and have turned to this book. Sunday I did this again and found a Coconut Lime Crunch Cookie that sounded terrific so I set about the kitchen toasting coconut and zesting limes to the tunes of Neil Sedaka while dancing around the kitchen and happily looking forward to something new.
Now, you would think that after nearly 50 years of baking I would recognize a bad recipe when confronted by one. But Nooooooo......
So here I was after carefully following directions and chilling dough for 2 hours and baking little round dough balls hoping that I would have had SOMETHING to show for it. What I had was a cookie sheet full of melted butter with coconut floating around in it. DISASTER time. Finally looking back over the recipe I realized there wasn't any mention of flour at all. What a stupid recipe and what a stupid me for not realizing this sort of omission?

Frankly this was not the first cookie recipe out of this book that ended up in disaster - I could count off at least 5 others that were either complete messes or tasted awful. So to the trash went that book! It just goes to prove that simply because a cookbook manages to get published, there is no guarantee that the recipes included are either accurate or any good to eat.

To make up for that waste of a couple of hours, I found a recipe that I'd printed from the King Arthur Flour website for Date Nut Bars and decided to try something that should be edible when complete. And they were! I cannot really say enough good things about this web site, http://www.kingarthurflour.com/ , I've tried many recipes and had only good experiences with them. These Date Nut Squares are no exception.

KING ARTHUR FLOUR DATE NUT SQUARES

1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, traditional or white whole wheat
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple pie spice OR a combination of 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
2 cups pitted dried dates
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup toasted walnuts*

* Toasting the walnuts before using them brings out a nutty essence. Toast nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes -- just until you can start to smell them; let cool before using.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

Combine the flours, sugar, apple pie spice, and salt. Stir to mix well. Cut the butter into pieces and blend it into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips or a pastry blender; the mixture will be crumbly. Pour 2/3 of this into the prepared pan and pat down.

Soften dates in the boiling water. Add the sugar and process in a blender or food processor until pureed. Add the walnuts. Spread the filling on top of the crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust on top of the filling.

Bake for about 30 minutes. The top should be lightly browned.

Cool completely and cut into 20 squares.

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