Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tu B'shevat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today is the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat, the day that marks the beginning of a 'New Year' for Trees. This is the day in Israel when the earliest blooming trees begin a new fruit bearing cycle. I'm a gardener, and I live in a Mediterranean climate, so this is a holiday I love to celebrate.

About Trees in Jewish literature from Kolel:
Trees figure prominently in Jewish literature and lore—from the very first trees planted at creation and the Garden of Eden, to the trees worshipped by King Ahaz in the final chapters of the Bible. In the Bible, the Hebrew word for tree appears over 150 times, and more than 100 different kinds of trees, shrubs and plants are named. The Mishnah (Masechet Zera’im in particular deals with laws of agriculture) adds hundreds of names of plants. Midrashim, too, often use plants in similes and parables. In all, over 500 different plants are mentioned in classical Jewish sources.

The Bible uses images and descriptions of trees but is not meant to be a botanical encyclopedia. The names and descriptions of plant (and animal) life are casual; many common species of plants are not mentioned in the Bible (like the carob), while others appear only once (such as ebony, pistachio, and walnut).

I love trees and the nuts and other fruits that grow on them. Here's a great drop cookie recipe that uses lots of different fruits and nuts. You can substitue dried apricots, raisins, currants, dates, dried figs, dried cranberries, and other nuts for any of the additional ingredients. This recipe makes a very moist chewy cookie. Eat them within 3 days. You shouldn't have any problem doing that :-)

Can't make cookies today? Plant a tree. I am.


1-1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1⁄4 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄2 cup sweet butter, room temperature
3⁄4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1⁄4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup flaked toasted coconut
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
3⁄4 cup chopped dried cherries
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Grease 3 baking sheets.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.
Cream butter in mixing bowl, add sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.
Add egg and beat until smooth. Add lemon zest and beat until blended.
Stir in 1⁄2 of flour mixture until blended.
Stir in 1⁄2 of sour cream.
Repeat with remaining flour mixture and sour cream.
Stir in coconut, pistachios, walnuts, cherries and chocolate chips.
Drop batter on prepared cookie sheets. Use two teaspoons to shape and drop (about 1 Tbsp. batter for each cookie. Mound high. Space 2 inches apart (they will spread).
Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown at edges and nearly set but soft in center.
Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

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