My goal was to come up with a special cookie for the holiday cookie tray–and to make a cookie with a long shelf life so the recipe could be prepared in advance for giving as gifts.
I just love it when a first-time experiment comes together on the first try. That was my reward when I decided to do something unique with a fruit and nut mixture that often serves as the base of many commercial raw fruit bars.
I loaded the fruity mixture with tons of nuts and wanted to see what would happen if I formed it into cookies and baked them. But for how long? And how big should I make them?
I took a stab at making them 2 inches in diameter and baking them 15 for minutes. OMG! They were absolutely IRRESISTIBLE! Yet, with their unusual texture they really weren’t like the familiar crispy cookies most people know, nor were they confections–but, interestingly, somewhere in-between.
It was not only the irresistible flavor these offer, but also the exceptional crunchy-on-the-outside chewy-on-the-inside texture that was so appealing. Here’s another thing I noticed: They kept amazingly well sitting on my kitchen counter in a heavy-duty plastic bag I had left open for several days. When I sealed the plastic bag, the cookies would lose their crunch. The following week I packed them in my suitcase and took them to Massachusetts when visiting my daughter, and they still tasted irresistibly delicious.
I had a few of these little goodies left at home sitting on the counter in an open plastic bag and was delighted that time (about 3 weeks) had not diminished their exceptional flavor or texture.
They’re great travelers! Take them on a plane trip, pack them on a road trip (the kids will love ’em), wrap them in a gift box and ship them to far-away friends and family. All they need is a good home equipped with a pack of cookie monsters.
I knew I had something special and that they would make welcome little homemade gifts during the holidays. If I wrapped them in blue ribbon, I might bring them to a Hanukkah party. I could tie them up with a red and green bow and they would be perfect nibbles for my friend’s Grandma for Christmas. And by putting the Irresistibles in a gift box wrapped with red, green, and black, they would make the perfect homemade Kwanzaa gift for someone special.
Here are a few handy notes that will help bring the recipe together with ease. You’ll need:
- A hammer for coarsely chopping the almonds
- A hand-crank nut mill for coarsely grinding the walnuts
- A large food processor, at least 11 cup capacity
- Kitchen scissors for snipping the dates and dried apricots
When the Irresistibles are baked and cooled, treat yourself to one, or two, or—-maybe just one more!
Yield: about 50 cookies
1 1/2 cups walnuts, divided
2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, snipped in half
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup Turkish apricots, snipped in half
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
30 whole almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
- Put 1 cup of the almonds in a heavy-duty plastic bag, seal it, and coarsely chop the nuts with a hammer. Transfer the nuts to a large mixing bowl. Put 1/2 cup of the walnuts in a hand-crank nut mill and coarsely grind them. Add them to the bowl with the the almonds, add the cacao nibs, and set aside.
- Put the remaining 1 1/2 cups of almonds into the food processor and process to form a coarse meal. Add the remaining 1 cup walnuts, the dates, maple syrup, apricots, rolled oats, cocoa powder, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg and pulse and process to form a slightly chunky mixture. You may have to stop the machine several times to redistribute the ingredients, but patience pays off. The mixture will be very solid.
- When the ingredients are evenly distributed and none of the apricots and nuts are larger than 1/8 inch in size, transfer the mixture to the bowl with the chopped nuts.
- Roll up your sleeves and use your hands to work the nuts and nibs into the mixture, incorporating them thoroughly into the firm “dough.”
- Lightly oil your hands and roll the mixture into balls about 1 to 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Space them about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use the heel of your hand or fingers to press down on the balls, forming cookies about 2 inches in diameter.
- Press an almond into the center of each cookie and bake for 15 minutes. Do NOT overbake! Cool the cookies completely before removing them from the pan.
- To store the Irresistibles, put them in a heavy-duty plastic bag, but do not seal it. They keep well at room temperature for up to 1 week. For longer storage, put the Irresistibles in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.