Dessert in a pinch

Spiced date cookies make a last-minute save

I believe I have told you all in the past about my tendency to procrastinate to the extreme. Not a single paper or project in my entire life was completed more than a day before it was due, often just hours before the deadline.

For some people, procrastination is simply just putting off an undesirable task, but for me, it is the result of many, many wasted hours of work scrapped at the last minute. I have taken the responsible route in the past: I have brainstormed, outlined, drafted, revised and polished a project over time and long in advance, as we are encouraged to do. However, upon final review on the due date I would find my work insufficient — an embarrassment — and would be forced by my own self-doubt to fly through the process in hours to produce something new to turn in before I could find cause to hate it.

Over time I learned to skip the first part of that frustrating cycle and just trust the scramble… it has never failed me.

Despite this knowledge, I tried this week to cook and write early on in anticipation of a busy weekend and with an unexpected day at home. The recipe was sweet sesame seed crackers, and the article was about the emotional ride that came with my first time having to call in to work to take care of my sick child.

I may revisit that subject and recipe in the future, but when I read my words, I couldn’t bear to submit them. Instead, I quickly made cookies and muttered to myself, “why am I like this?!” These cookies are heavily spiced with clove and cinnamon and will be right at home next to the pumpkin pie on your Thanksgiving dessert table. They look a lot like Fig Newtons, but the texture and flavor are quite different.

Spiced Date Cookies


For the filling:

15 dates

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon clove

For the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

½ cup light oil (sunflower oil works nicely)

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

A bit of milk for brushing.


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or greased parchment.

Steam your pitted dates for 10 minutes until soft.

Mash the dates with a fork until they are a smooth paste.

Add the butter and spices and knead until incorporated. Set aside.

Gently whisk together the egg and egg yolk, vanilla, and powdered sugar.

Add the oil and whisk until smooth.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg, then add to the wet ingredients.

Use your hands to knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball.

Roll the dough into a log about 12 inches long, then use your fingers to create a well down the center of the log. It should resemble a long hotdog bun.

Take your date filling and roll it out into a snake as long as the dough, then place it in the well you created.

Gently lift the sides of the dough up and around the filling to seal it. Seal the edges as well.

Continue rolling with your hands until the snake is about 1 inch thick.

Cut the snake into about 1 ½ inch pieces.

Use a fork to press down on the tops to flatten and create grooves.

Arrange on the silicone mat and brush the tops with a little milk.

Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until the tops are golden.

Allow to cool completely before storing for up to 1 week.