These are the kind of cookies that just beg to be taken outside on a pretty platter and served on napkins with a cool glass of lemonade to sip alongside. Which is exactly what my mother did when I was a little girl. They're unusual - the raisins are ground into a paste and then mixed into the batter. The resulting cookie has a crisp outer shell with a chewy middle and a deep raisin flavor. Just like I remember.
The recipe originally comes from my grandmother, and where it came from before that is anyone's guess. In fact, if anyone does know, both my mother and I would love to know!
In my grandmother's day, she ran the raisins through a meat grinder to mash them into a paste. My mother switched over to using a food processor, which is easier but makes a stickier paste. Tossing the raisins with a little of the flour beforehand makes it more manageable.
This is also one of those recipes that just requires shortening, though you could probably also use lard. My mother said she tried them a few times with butter and it just wasn't the same. In her words, "Use Crisco. Don't think about it. Just do it." Momma knows best, after all.
2 cups (11 oz) dark raisins
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup (7 oz) shortening
2 cups (17 oz) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups (8 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
extra sugar for rolling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Toss the raisins with 1/4 cup of the flour. Grind in a food processor with a blade attachment for 20-30 seconds until the raisins form a very thick paste and come together into a ball (see photographs below). You can also use a blender or a meat grinder to mash the raisins into a paste.
Cream the shortening and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until the mixture resembles soft frosting. Beat in the ground raisins.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Beat this slowly into the egg mixture until a shaggy dough is formed and there is no more visible flour.
Use your hands to pinch off pieces of the dough and roll them into balls slightly smaller than ping-pong balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and arrange them two inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are crinkly on top and just starting to turn golden-brown around the edges.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
(Image: Emma Christensen)