As Mums and I were chit-chatting the other day, we discovered that we were both craving the same cookie: thin, tender oatmeal sandwiched with sticky date filling.
It’s a cookie that harks back to my childhood in Canada when church and school potluck dessert tables always seemed to feature a bar version called “matrimonial cakes.” How I loved sinking my teeth into the chewy cookie, dense with oats and brown sugar, and discovering that little burst of sweet date filling. Mmm!
What I did not know was that these tasty little morsels were shortened not simply by butter, shortening or even oil, but by bacon grease!! Or, as Mums dubbed it: “pig butter.” 🙂
I admit I was skeptical but thought, heck, if I can eat rancid tomatoes in Russia or boiled pig trotter in Portugal, surely I can handle a little pig butter in my oatmeal cookie. Yipes!
So we hauled out an old Mennonite cookbook Mums has had for as long as I can remember, and thumbed through the spattered pages until we found her favorite recipe. We assembled oats, brown sugar and lovely plump dates.
And, yep, “pig butter.”
As we sifted, stirred and blended, Pa kept us fortified with snacks. 🙂
The batter came together beautifully and while it chilled in the fridge for a few hours we went for a drive to a nearby park, delighting in the sunshine while we stayed toasty warm inside the car.
Traditionally the cookies are cut into circles and sandwiched together, but Mums decided to cut a hole out of the top of each cookie so we could see the filling. I think it was a grand idea. 🙂
Today I popped in for tea and a visit with Mums and Pa, and she served our cookies with Parisian Hot Chocolate. (She sure knows how to cheer a daughters heart!) They tasted every bit as good as I remembered: moist, chewy with just the right bit of sweet. I guess those Mennonite ladies knew what they were doing when they thought bacon grease would be the perfect addition to cookies. 🙂
(From The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes)
1/2 cup bacon grease
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift, then measure flour, add salt, sift again.
- Cream bacon fat and butter together. Gradually add brown sugar and vanilla.
- Dissolve soda in boiling water and add to creamed mixture.
- Add flour mixture and rolled oats, stirring until well blended.
- Roll dough thin on lightly floured board and cut with floured 2″ cookie cutter. With half of the cookies, use small heart, star or tree shaped cookie cutter in center of circle and remove piece
- Place on greased cookie sheets and bake 20 minutes or until brown.
- Cool and spread whole circle with date filling (see below) and top with cut-out cookie so date filling shows through the hole.
Date Filling Ingredients:
2 cups chopped dates
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon or orange zest
- Combine in saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture is thick and dates are tender.
- Cool, then use to fill cookies.