Dates have been part of our Canadian dessert repertoire since English colonization. Dates, the original dried fruit, traveled well and added sweetness to desserts when refined white sugar was expensive and often difficult to obtain.
And now, due in part to the popularity of Sticky toffee pudding and its appearance on just about every restaurant menu, dates are now fashionable. Although, my Nan always had a package of them in her fridge; date squares, steamed date pudding, and date turnovers, growing up and into my adulthood, I didn’t care if they weren’t “on trend,” I have always love dates and anything with dates in them, including savory foods like Moroccan chicken.
Having just finished the last Christmas stash of date squares, Dan asked me to make date turnovers, to be honest, he’s been asking for me for years. I gave in, as every now and then I try to make him happy
I started with a recipe from The Mary Moore Cookbook, but i didn’t like it. The recipe called for shortening, and thick cream (?). The oatmeal cookie recipe right above it, didn’t look like it would work either, again shortening, no eggs and buttermilk as the only fat. Too lazy to walk upstairs to search for another recipe, I came up with my own. They are everything that I remember from my Nan’s kitchen; soft, a little bit exotic from the cinnamon and nutmeg, but mostly, packed full of delicious lemony date goodness.
Proust may have his Madelaines, but I’ll always want a date turnover instead.
Date Turnovers (make the filling first, so that it cools)
1 1/2 cups chopped dates
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I didn’t use them)
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan, stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until thick. Let cool before using.
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups of all purpose flour
3 cups rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter with brown sugar, stir in eggs, then vanilla, Mix well, then gradually add dry ingredients until cookie dough is well mixed. Chill for 15 before proceeding.
On a lightly floured counter, roll chilled dough approx. 1/4″ thick, and cut using a large round biscuit cutter. Add 1 to 2 tsp. of filling in the centre, brush one edge with water and fold the dough over. Seal, pressing down with a fork. . Reroll the dough until you run out of filling, I made 15 turnovers, but mine are on the large size.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size.