California is a land of plenty when it comes to fruit, especially dates. Many West Coast regional cookbooks have recipes for these thick, soft date-and-nut cookies. In other parts of the country, they used to be called “rocks,” because of their shape, not their texture.

Recipe notes: If you want to make these nut-free, replace the walnuts with more dates or another dried fruit of your choice.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for several months.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.


  • 1/2 cup (105 grams) vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (61 grams) sour cream
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups (240 grams) chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups (311 grams) finely chopped pitted dates

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Step 2

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer and a large bowl, beat together the shortening and sugar on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again on medium-high until smooth and blended, scrape down the bowl, then beat in the sour cream.

Step 3

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Add to the shortening mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Stir in the nuts and dates.

Step 4

Drop heaping teaspoons of the dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are delicately browned around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing.

Adapted from “The Fannie Farmer Baking Book,” by Marion Cunningham (Gramercy, 1996).

Tested by Sarah Meyer Walsh and Kari Sonde; email questions to

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Calories: 110; Total Fat: 6 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 10 mg; Sodium: 45 mg; Carbohydrates: 13 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 8 g; Protein: 2 g.