Eh, you know, I roll at my own pace – like I have only baked 37 items and we’re 65 days into 2018. And I’ve only written about 30 of them…It shouldn’t shock you, then, that I made these cookies on President’s Day and then actually haven’t written about them.
With illness, work, and dealing with significant crap with our son, I am a proper 4 weeks behind. Maybe my #365daysofbaking will spill over into 2019. Just the way life goes sometimes. And our daughter made US Nationals, so I know I will be missing more baking time in a few weeks.
Baking or watching my kid compete at a national level? Baking, you lose. Lo siento.
When my son was little, he loved anything presidential, so when we went to Washington D.C. when he was in late elementary school, of course I had to buy him every book we stumbled upon about presidential history, including Presidential Cookies by Bev Young. You can buy a used copy pretty cheap through thriftbooks.
I never regretted buying him all those books, especially when my husband and I would find him under the covers with a flashlight reading them after he was supposed to “go to bed.” I felt I’d done a good thing on a parenting level, you know, like instilling a love of reading and all.
Now, all the other nightmare, asshole-ish stunts he pulled at bedtime are a whole other beast of a conversation for another day. Whoever said girls were difficult never had a teenaged boy.
I’ve also never regretted making any of the cookies within this cookbook, either, especially when my son has asked. Each recipe has been researched, and both history and folklore accompany the recipe. Betcha didn’t know cookie history is American history.
Remember when Bill Clinton had to have a running crew of Special Agents each morning? I think he enjoyed his cookies a wee bit too much, along with a few other things.
When I set out to make cookies for my class on President’s Day – yeah, ski schools don’t care about holidays. They care about snow – I wanted to choose a “lesser known” President so the class could learn a little more about him. My fellow teacher is a Presidential buff, and lo’, she gave the kids a run down on Mr. Fillmore, our 13th President (1850-1853).
A few nifty things about our 13th President Millard Fillmore and his wife Abigail:
- The 1st real bathtub with centrally heated running water was installed during his term. Thank you progress.
- His wife, First Lady Abigail Fillmore, a former teacher, created the 1st library in the White House. Yeah teachers who teach reading!
- They had the 1st iron cook stove – even the Chef disapproved of this idea, and the staff refused to learn to cook on it. The President had to study drawings at the US Post Office in order to learn how to operate the stove’s drafts & pulleys. Gotta love the porty old man for this.
While it’s not totally clear whether this was a cookie Millard, himself, liked, or just one that was popular during his youth…no matter, it’s really good. It’s like the cookie you might have had when you visited Grandma’s house…old fashioned, but delicious. Simple, unassumingly humble, and just damn good.
Here’s the trick to getting kids to eat them – don’t tell them it’s a date-nut cookie, just call it a Charlotte – or President Fillmore’s cookie. They’ll just raise their eyebrows at you if you say date-nut cookie, with a look like, “Who in hell eats dates? Sure as hell not me.”
I got this look from every single kid in my class. I just stared back into their beady little skeptical eyes and said, “Eat it. You’ll like it. I mean, seriously, it’s a cookie.” Every kid so desperately wanted one – ya’ know, ’cause the whole cookie thing and all – and when they finally broke down their facade of “I’m too cool for a date-nut cookie,” they loved them. Were going back for thirds and fourths kinda loved them.
Why? Because I fucking made them, that’s why.
But really, it’s a pseudo-crispy cookie with a chewy inside because of the dates. Just make these. Every adult and kid will love them.
My Thoughts After Baking:
- Toast your nuts before you add them to the dough. Just chop them up, dump them on a small baking sheet into a 350F oven for about 10 minutes. It will add a whole other flavor layer. And your house will smelly of nutty goodness – the good kind of nutty, not the batshit crazy kinda nutty we all have running around somewhere in our family.
- The dough is super thick. You’re gonna want those darn awesome cookie scoops I keep talking about, like in my Grapefruit Poppy Seed Pound Cake post.
- When you roll the dough into balls, make sure you press them down just a bit or you’ll get uncooked cookies in the center. I did this with the heel of my palm while wearing medical gloves. I always wear medical gloves when I make cookies; the oils from your skin can actually negatively play into how the dough comes out, especially in sugar cookies. Besides, my skin is junk from eczema. Gloves save me many a hand washing.
- The 1st batch cooked in my oven for 11 1/2 minutes, and they came out flat and very crispy, and a bit too browned for my liking.
- Into the fridge, the dough went for about 20 minutes, and then I cooked the next batch of chilled dough for 11 minutes. They were less flat, but still a bit too brown. Yeah, yeah, I know this is a brown sugar-butter cookie base, but I was determined to find the perfect temp and cooking time for the perfectly colored cookie. Cause I’m fucking perfect kinda thing. bahahahahahah!!
- Seriously, batch 3 was still the chilled dough, but I shortened the cooking time to 10 minutes. The result was a nicely, but not overly, browned cookie that was puffy, chewy, and had a slightly crisp bottom. Of course your cooking time will depend on your oven, but 10 minutos was perfecto in my oven. These were crispy-chewy perfection!
Thank you to our 13th President for bringing stoves into the house and centrally heated water for warm baths. I bet you and Mrs. Abigail didn’t stink as badly as other before you.
I find it utterly annoying that one of the better food pictures I take is in a ziploc baggie.