Cookie Monster

Weekly recipes to serve with a glass of milk.

Cookie Monster: Date Pecan Caps

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

My mother and I both have the same compulsion: to print or tear out recipes with the greatest enthusiasm, and then to promptly lose them. There are many reasons why someone should put a stop to the madness. First, even the recipes that do end up wedged between my refrigerator and the banana spot don't get my attention. I haven't stopped wanting to make these recipes, yet somehow, when dinner time rolls around, I feel the need to either look up a new recipe on the internet or to wing it. Second, the recipe pages that do get found are often confusing (God, did I want to make the 10 layer banana chestnut chocolate cake or the deep fried pickle stuffed chicken thighs? And why did I pull out this advertisement for a bespoke bamboo utensil rack?) Lastly, I have no idea where all those lost recipes are going, but I'm pretty sure I'll kick myself when I find that 10 generations of mice have made themselves some cozy little furniture out of the Southern cooking issue of Bon Apetit.

The last time I was at my parent's house, I decided to do a little search and rescue operation through my mother's old recipe hoard. I was in need of inspiration, and she needed someone to pull the trigger on Easy Microwave Cooking. Between a recipe for Dutch Apple Cake (keep) and Tricolor Bean Casserole (toss), I found a recipe for Baba Rum's Date Caps. The note explained it had been given to my mother by the mother of one of my kindergarten classmates. While my mom played her favorite game of "I wonder what ever happened to little Susie", I checked out the recipe, as I am want to do with anything that features dates.

Frankly, it made no sense. An overly simple cream cheese dough (we're talking cream cheese, butter, and flour) is pressed into mini-muffin tins, then filled with a poorly explained date mixture that's mixed with egg whites. What could this taste like? I wondered. I had to find out.

The recipe was a little vague, but the results (as I made them) were decidedly delicious. The base is similar to a Rugelach dough, and, though simple, it has a surprisingly sweet flavor. I pureed dates, sugar, pecans, vanilla, and egg yolks until they resembled a paste, then folded in stiff egg whites. When baked, the interior takes on the texture of a meringue, but one with the deep, sweet taste of dates and a faint nuttiness from the pecans. The delicious, addictive taste far outstrips the beauty of this bizarre little cookie, and I couldn't be happier that I saved it from the trash.

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Date Pecan Caps »

About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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