From my great grandfather’s recipe — had a bakery in Pennsylvania. My grandmother baked them every year and then that recipe got lost and my Mom tried to recreate them using a loose adaptation from Maida Heatter’s cookbook Best Dessert Book Ever. These cookies are perfect for the fall and winter months with all their spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves) and packed with walnuts and dates so they are nice and chewy.
There’s really only one way to describe these cookies… they “taste like Christmas”!
Michigan Rock Cookies
- 1 pound pitted dates
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened 8 ounces total
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons warm water
- 3 cups walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the dates in half (in thirds if they're large). To get the dates soft, place them in a bowl with warm water for about 30 minutes, draining in a colander to remove any excess water.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
In a separate bowl, add the butter and beat with an electric mixer until combined. Add white and brown sugars and beat until mixed. Then beat in one egg at a time. Lastly, add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a small bowl or cup, combine baking soda with warm water and add this into the batter. Add in dates on a low speed until they are just evenly distributed (do not overwork the batter).
Slowly combine dry ingredients into the batter, about one cup at a time. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the walnuts.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Form the cookies to be slightly larger than a golf ball and gently press them down, making sure the cookies are 2 inches apart.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes. If you are baking more than one tray at once, switch the baking sheets halfway through (top to bottom, bottom to top). After a few minutes out of the oven, transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
You can also freeze the dough and thaw later for baking at another time.