The following recipe is from the newly revised edition of Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1999. She is author of seven previous award-winning cookbooks, and this revised edition of her first book has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Hall of Fame.

Aspen Rocks

"I learned these delicious cookies from The Swiss Bakery in Aspen, Colorado. The owner of the bakery was a great pastry chef from Switzerland. When I asked him how to make these he invited me to come in the next day and help him make them. What fun! I had a great time and I ate a lot of cookies. And I've made these ever since. They are loaded with raisins, dates, and nuts, and tantalizing spices."

Yield: 40 large cookies

  • 3 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, mace, allspice, dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 3/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 ounces (1 cup) raisins
  • 12 ounces (1 1/2 generous cups, packed) pitted dates, cut in quarters (see note)
  • 8 ounces (2 generous cups) walnuts, in large pieces
Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment or foil.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In large bowl of electric mixer beat the butter to soften it a bit. Beat in the cinnamon, mace, allspice, dry mustard, vanilla, and coffee. Gradually add the sugar and beat well.

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula. On lowest speed gradually add the sifted flour mixture, scraping the bowl with the rubber spatula and beating only until blended. Remove from mixer. Stir in raisins, dates, and nuts.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (make these large) about 2 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet. Dip a table fork into cold water and with the bottom of the wet prongs flatten a cookie to 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thickness. Repeat to flatten all the cookies.

Put the sheet on the lower rack in the oven. Put only one sheet of cookies in the oven at the beginning. Start them on the lower rack, finish them on the upper rack. When they are about half baked a second sheet may go in. In this way you will be able to glaze all the cookies while they are still hot.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes until cookies are well browned and tops feel firm and spring back when lightly touched. Reverse position of pan during baking to insure even browning.

While the first sheet of cookies is baking, prepare the following glaze:

Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • I Tablespoon soft butter
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons light or heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
In a small bowl beat above ingredients until smooth. If necessary add a bit more cream or sugar - mixture should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Cover it when not in use.

Slide the parchment or foil off the cookie sheet. Immediately, with a pastry brush, brush a thin coating of the glaze on the hot cookies. The heat of the cookies will melt it to a shiny, creamy coating, which will be dry to the touch in just a few minutes. With a wide metal spatula transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Note: Raisins must be fresh and soft - baking will not soften them. They may be softened by steaming them in a vegetable steamer or a strainer over boiling water, covered, for about 5 minutes. Raisins should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.



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