Okay, Okay – so they are actually just plain old humble prunes. Prune – not a word that brings out a positive thought for a lot of people, I know. I figure if the package can call them “Dried Plums”, then I can too, and maybe a few more people will be drawn to the idea. The truth is, though, that I have always loved prunes. Growing up next door to my grandparents, I was exposed to the idea that only old people eat prunes, because they had them every morning for breakfast. I’m not sure why, but we never had them at home. My grandmother stewed them once a week, often along with dried apricots, and kept them in the fridge, portioning out a daily helping for each of them. It may sound horrible to you, but when you stew a prune [stewing is just simmering them in a bit of liquid for a few minutes] they turn into this soft, silky little bite of sweetness and deep flavor. I am sure I made a nuisance of myself, asking Grandma if I could have a few of her stash whenever the thought occurred to me. She was always happy to oblige, because Grandma believed fervently in the power of prunes – they are GOOD for you!
I’ve always loved them straight out of the package as well, which is how I usually gave them to my kids, both of whom loved them. And straight out of the package is how you use them in these cookies – with just a bit of chopping, of course. You often see raisins in oatmeal cookies, but I prefer the richer flavor of dried plums. I think they bring a nice moist chewiness as well – something raisins just don’t do quite as well. The orange zest in these is another layer of flavor that goes really nicely with the plums, and toasted nuts bring in some crunch and additional flavor.
Here is how to make them:
½ cup softened butter
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons molasses
1 & ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 ounces dried plums
½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure out about 2 tablespoons of the flour, and sprinkle over the dried plums, on a cutting board. Chop coarsely – the flour will help keep the plums from sticking together – and set aside.
Beat softened butter with sugars, until light and fluffy. Beat in orange zest, ginger, vanilla, eggs and molasses.
Stir the remainder of the flour, along with the oats, baking powder and cinnamon into the butter mixture. Stir in the plums and pecans.
Portion onto baking sheet with a medium cookie scoop, and bake for about 9 minutes, until edges are browned nicely. Cool on a wire rack, and store in a sealed container. Makes about 3 dozen cookies – will keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.It is a little odd to think that Grandma, who seemed SO old when we lived next door to them, was actually about the age I am right now. And since I’m a Grandma myself, I wonder what memories Mark and Anna will have of me when they are my age. I sincerely hope one of them is that I made some really good cookies.