Michigan: Michigan Rock cookies – big taste, big errors

I was humming along, producing a new cookie every two weeks, until my recent cookie disaster, but it’s not Michigan’s fault.  Jeremy and I continue our tour of the 50 states, searching for the most interesting Christmas cookie for each.  Two weeks ago, I baked Michigan Rocks, a cookie that has a lot to offer in terms of taste, but I was derailed by a dog. . .or two.

Before Michigan, I tried a cookie recipe from Charleston, South Carolina, Benne Wafers. That nutty sesame cookie was delicious and different.  Before that, was was  Indiana,  New JerseyAlaska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Alabama.

I had trouble finding an origin story for Michigan Rocks, a fruity type of cookie that attracted me because it was filled with dried dates, raisins, nuts, and more.  I had my choice of several recipes–united only in general fruit and nut ingredients.  Unlike other recipes, Michigan Rocks had so many different versions.  I admit I settled on the one below, in the archive of a Pennsylvania paper, because white wine was an ingredient–and that sounded adventurous.

And then all hell broke loose.  I had measured and mixed all of the ingredients, and the paddle and bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer began to thump–that’s unusual.  I was just beginning to realize that the recipe makes nine dozen cookies. I would need baking reinforcements and thought to ask my teenage neighbors if they would like to help eat some.  And then the doorbell rang. . .

It was the three teens I had just summoned in my mind!  They needed me to look at a sick chicken, and in that moment, my dog (and his friend dog who I was babysitting), ate the one teaspoon of dough I had put on the tray.

Calls to poison control, dog vomit, counting raisins in the yuck, and hours later (everyone lived), I baked a tray of the cookies.  They were soft and delicious, but, somehow, I had lost my appetite for this particular kind of cookie.  I gave all of the remaining dough to the neighbors, and they pronounced the cookies delicious!

So there you have it.  I’m ready to leave Michigan behind, but take my neighbors’ word that these cookies are keepers.  You  might consider cutting the recipe in half the first time you make it.

P.S.  We have a new kitchen dog gate–it’s terrific.

SOFT MICHIGAN ROCKS

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 lb. margarine

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups flour, sifted with 1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 lb. chopped walnuts (2 cups)

1/2 cup raisins

1 lb. cut-up dates

7 oz. package flaked coconut

1/2 cup white wine, any kind

Cream margarine with brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture gradually until all is used up. Add rest of ingredients up to wine. Mix together well. Then add wine. Drop by teaspoons onto lightly greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes 9 dozen.

—Pat Zaengle, Nesquehoning

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