Little date confections, or date nut meringues, or dattelkonfekt--whatever you want to call them, that's what these are. Or at least they're an approximation thereof, since I'm not sure what they're supposed to taste like and they don't look quite like the pictures on the book. I liked these better than I thought I would. For some reason, the natural sweetness of the dates offsets the sugary sweetness of the meringue, and the textures are intriguing. But I'm still not 100% sold on meringues, although they have the advantage of being remarkably easy to make. A cookie without flour and butter is just not my kind of cookie.
But it's one of Rose's shortest recipes. Amass a lot of almonds and dates (nuts and dates don't come cheap, especially good Medjool dates). Then process them (separately, then together) until "the dates are evenly dispersed and separate."
The egg whites are beaten at medium-low speed.
Sugar is added.
Then the egg whites are beaten another five minutes, until the meringue is "very glossy but will not hold a peak." Because I'm a meringue novice, I'm not entirely sure that this is the right stage, but it was glossy and it didn't hold a peak, so it must have been close. I have a feeling that that "close enough for meringue" is not the same standard as "close enough for government work," however.
Finally, the dates, nuts, and meringue are all mixed together until it looks kind of gloppy. "Gloppy" isn't a word found in the recipe.
Although some of the piped cookies have peculiar shapes, I want to point out that I actually did use a piping bag, much to Jim's surprise. It didn't surprise him so much that I used it, but that I didn't grumble about using it. It's the Zen of Baking again.
Are these what they're supposed to look like? I don't know. It's what mine looked like. In order to get four dozen cookies, I had to make them pretty small. If I'd made them all a bigger and what seems to me a more appropriate size, I think I'd only have gotten about three dozen. The smallest ones are two-bite cookies (three bites if you're being dainty). Some of them were chewier than others; some were crisper than others; some were fluffier than others. I think they're probably too brown, although I took them out after 12 minutes for the first batch, and then after 10. These are not ready for prime time meringues.
Jim tasted them and said they were "pretty good." I know Jim's Minnesota vocabulary, and that is not high praise. He said he'd give them 3.5 out of 5. Or, he added helpfully, 7 out of 10. "That's a C," I said. "Yeah, that's about right. Maybe a C+." Then JJ took a bite. And another. And another. "Well, at least the boy likes them," I thought. After he took 3 bites, he apparently decided he was no longer giving them the benefit of the doubt, and he spit the whole chewed-up mess out. On the beige rug. Finally, I ate one. I would give it a solid B. I love the dates and almonds, and if this were a date and almond drop cookie with brown sugar, I think I'd be crazy about it, but it's not.
However, did I mention that they were easy? And have you looked at the picture of the Meringue Birch Twigs? I sense disaster when I look at the picture of the Meringue Birch Twigs. But, as Scarlett O'Hara said, "I'll think about that tomorrow." Or maybe next year.