Best Christmas Cookies Ever

What’s the one dessert you associate with Christmas? Blog radio host, Linda Kozar, asked me this question when interviewing me recently. Without hesitation, I said, “Ruth’s Chewy Oatmeal Fruit Cookies.”

This is our family’s favorite cookie, but we only make them once a year because they require a lot of effort and because they seem to go with Christmas. Maybe it’s the blend of sugars, raisins, dates, oatmeal, nuts, and coconut that prompts the association.

Interested? Here’s the recipe.

Cream together 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup shortening. Add 2 large eggs, beaten with 1 teaspoon vanilla. Sift together 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon soda. Add to the creamed mixture, blending well. Then add 4 cups uncooked oatmeal, again blending well.

Grind 1 cup raisins and 1 cup pitted dates. Add those to mixture along with 1 cup chopped pecans and 1 cup coconut.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes at 325-350 degrees. It is normal for the cookies to fall some after they are out of the oven so don’t worry that you’re done something wrong.

Grinding the dates and raisins does something that just cutting them up won’t do, so don’t skip this part. Just be sure you cream the sugars and shortening extremely well, until they go “plop” when dropped from a spoon. Do sift your flour even if your brand says it isn’t necessary. Some of the nonsifts have a very drying effect on cookie doughs where the only moisture is eggs. The mixture may then crumble to where you can’t make it hold together. Sifting is a small price to pay to ensure success. Even then, the dough is still drier than other cookies.

Why these cookies are called “Ruth’s,” I don’t know. I clipped this recipe from Nan Wiley’s column in the Kansas City Star years ago, and my husband Bob and I have been making them ever since. They are delicious, and we figure with oatmeal in the cookies, we can even eat them for breakfast!

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