Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't Judge A Cookie By It's Name

Last year we went to Minnesota to visit my ailing Grandma for Christmas.  During our trip, we visited my Great Aunt Pearl who lives out on the old dairy farm in the country, for a potluck.  Aunt Pearl is a lifelong Minnesotan, as most of the family on my Mom's side are.  For Minnesotans, potlucks are a common, yet special event.  You can count on there being a dish of whole black olives, a dish of sweet pickles, at least one meat casserole, at least one potato casserole (or hot dish, as they call them), and tons and tons of dessert bars or balls.  Dontcha know!

The presentation and visual quality of the potluck food is typically highly questionable and unappealing.  Don't rely on your eyes.  Rely on your nose.  If it smells good, it will taste good.  This rule always works with a Minnesota hot dish. 

Unfortunately, the same rules do not apply with the dessert bars and cookie balls.  Most are covered in crumb topping or powdered sugar, so you can never really be sure what's in there.  You might ask what the bar or ball is called.  This is a mistake.  It will almost always be called something gross, like....Pressed Apple Cheese Bars, or Reindeer Balls.  Here's where you're just going to have to be adventurous and try it for yourself.  If you don't like it, chances are there will be at least 5 varieties and 5 chances for you to find something you do like.

Luckily, I took a risk and tried my Great Aunt Pearl's Date Balls.  Dates?  Ew!  But these are so good!  They taste like chewy caramel.  I begged her for the recipe and finally made them myself over the weekend.  I bought enough supplies to make a double batch, but I was short on time and only made a single batch.  Good thing!  This recipe makes about 6 dozen.  If you're feeling adventurous, try them yourself.  You won't be sorry.

Great Aunt Pearl's Date Balls
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 lb package pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup finely chopped nuts
Powdered sugar (or Jello mix powder if you want to make festive colors)

Mix together sugar, eggs, dates, salt and butter in a large sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat until thick (5-10 min) stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla, cereal and chopped nuts.  Mix well.  Let cool enough to roll into balls about the size of a walnut.  Roll in powdered sugar.  Makes approx 6 dozen.  They also freeze well.



NIKOL said...

I totally laughed at this post. So true about the potlucks, hotdish, and bars! Even the stuff about the weird names for cookies. My Grandma used to make these truly awesome cookies that were (no kidding) called krumkakah. KROOOM CACA. I mean, it's got "caca" in the name. How can you trust a cookie like that? But they were THE BEST.

I am truly not a fan of dates, but...maybe? You promise they're not really datey?

Kris said...

The dates pretty much boil down into a collective date/sugar/egg/butter caramel-y goo. There were very few lumps of date left by the time the concoction had cooked and thickened. I don't taste date...all I taste is sugary, buttery, caramel. I gave 6 to my coworker and she was hesitant but gobbled them all up at once.

I ate about 10 yesterday and today I've had 6. If I get diabetes, I'm blaming it on the Date Balls.

Karen Peterson said...

I love dates! My grandma used to make this date nut bread every holiday that I just couldn't get enough of. It makes me sad that I can't find her recipe box.