Raisin Filled Cookies


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Sometimes, there is a food we see, taste, or smell that evokes vivid memories of times past, and if we are lucky, of someone very special.  Raisin-filled cookies immediately bring to mind my Nana (my Mom’s mother) both because she absolutely loved these cookies and she made them all the time for us.

My Nana had some real specialties in her repertoire; her chow chow, her fudge, her homemade bread, and these soft, luscious cookies with sweet cooked raisin filling sandwiched between two disks of sugar cookie dough baked to golden perfection.

As a child, I always knew something special was coming out of the kitchen when Nana opened the closet door, took her over-the-head, full-bib, cotton print trimmed with ric-rac apron from the hook inside the door, pulled it over her head, patted down any loose bangs she might have displaced and started to gather ingredients needed for her current project.

Now, in the 60s when I was a child, my Nana did what a lot of women in the Coal Region did – she worked Monday through Friday in a local garment factory. I remember her being dropped off by a co-worker after work (Nana never learned to drive), walking in the door wearing a cotton dress, penny loafers, and white ankle socks that were completely caked with gray and black fibers when she would take them off at night; a result of the garment factory conditions and fiber dusts the workers were exposed to.

My Nana was a somewhat tall woman, opposite of my short, bow-legged Pappy (her husband), and she wore her very dark hair cut short in the back with pin curls in her bangs. She cut a commanding figure in the kitchen when she set about to create something and I can close my eyes and see every detail about Nana and the family kitchen yet today.

Though it may not seem to some people that this woman who still lived in the home she was born into in 1901 and grew up in, married to a coal miner who was the love of her life for nearly 60 years, factory worker by day, would ever be described as “regal”, but that is exactly what she was to me. Regal.

Gone from my life since 1975, I wish we had had more time together.  Miss you, Nana. Thanks for the memories (and the cookies!)


Tips For Successful Raisin-filled Cookies

  • Use margarine as called for in this old recipe. Butter and margarine have different characteristics; butter will alter the spread and texture of these cookies.
  • There is no need to manually seal the two disks of dough over the filling. The soft dough will seal itself as it bakes and the process will allow steam to escape.
  • Do not over-fill the cookies. Make sure to keep clean edges around the sides of the disks of dough to aid in the cookies self-sealing when baking.

Raisin Filled Cookies

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup margarine (no substitutes)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 egg

  • 3 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon white vinegar added, stirred and left to rest for 5 minutes

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • Filling
  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 8 oz of dark, seedless raisins (about 1-1/2 cups)

Directions

  • In a stand mixer, or by hand cream the sugar and butter.
  • Add the salt, egg, milk, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla; mix until combined.
  • Turn off the mixer (if using) and add all 3 cups of flour. Turn mixer on low (or stir by hand) and mix until a soft, sticky dough ball is formed.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for several hours.
  • In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch well to blend and smooth any lumps.  Add water and whisk until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and raisins and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  • Reduce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Filling will be thick.
  • Divide dough into 3 parts, refrigerate remaining dough while working.
  • Dust work surface with flour and roll out dough to 1/8 inch to just under 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Cut into 2-1/2 to 3 inch rounds with cutter. Make sure to cut even numbers of rounds. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Top each bottom cookie round with a teaspoon or so filling. Do not allow filling to go all the way to the edge of the round and do not over-fill. Press the mound of filling down lightly with dampened finger if necessary to flatten somewhat.
  • Top the cookie and filling with another cookie round. There is no need to seal the edges, the soft dough seals and bakes together.
  • Bake 375 F for 10 to 12 minutes rotating the sheet pan half way through. Cookies should only start to be a bit golden brown on the bottom and should stay soft.

Notes

  • Use margarine as called for in this old recipe. Butter and margarine have different characteristics; butter will alter the spread and texture of these cookies.
  • There is no need to manually seal the two disks of dough over the filling. The soft dough will seal itself as it bakes and the process will allow steam to escape.
  • Do not over-fill the cookies. Make sure to keep clean edges around the sides of the disks of dough
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