Quite a few years ago my Chief Culinary Consultant made mention of raisin-filled cookies and how much he loved them as a kid. He wondered if I could try making them, but there was one problem – I had no idea what these cookies were that he spoke of. I had never heard of them or seen them myself. So, I set about on some research and started poking around online for recipes and did end up finding a few. Not long after that, I spotted a box of these cookies at Sam’s Club. I snapped a picture and sent it to him and he confirmed that those were, indeed, the cookies. I had a visual! I picked up those cookies and we’ve since found them in a couple of other places, so I finally got to taste the cookies as well. However, I then displayed some seriously questionable behavior because I totally and completely dropped the ball on these cookies. I’m talking, for years. A thousand apologies to him, and to you.
It wasn’t until I was digging through a pile of my grandma’s old recipes looking for something else that I came across the recipe for these filled raisin cookies. This was it. THE recipe. I knew it immediately. But… if this recipe was in my grandma’s recipe collection… why had I never heard of these cookies before? Or tasted them? I asked my mom and she said that my grandma made these cookies all the time for my grandfather, who adored raisins. However, once he passed away (when I was 5), she stopped making them because no one else in the family really cared for raisins. How sad! The recipe has been officially resurrected and is definitely one that will get a lot of use in my kitchen.
These cookies consist of a very soft and almost sponge-like cookie wrapped around a thick raisin filling. It’s simple, homey and absolutely delicious. Not to mention addicting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
A few notes on the recipe:
I know the first question many of you will ask is if you can use butter in place of margarine. Yes, the recipe calls for margarine and I know many people don’t use it anymore. However, when it comes to old-fashioned recipes, I almost never alter ingredients because you usually won’t end up with the exact same texture or flavor. Butter and margarine have different properties when it comes to baking (butter tends to spread more and creates a crisper final product), so I recommend using margarine as the recipe was written.
The directions for mixing the dough are admittedly weird and counter-intuitive for anyone who has ever mixed dough before. I just went with it, and the dough was perfect, so I wouldn’t change a thing.
You could substitute any of your favorite fruits in the filling. My mom mentioned that my grandma once made a version of this cookie with a peach filling. You could easily substitute in any dried fruit, just be sure to dice it up before proceeding with the recipe.
I couldn’t be happier that I came across this recipe. Not only is it an absolutely delicious cookie, but it makes me feel connected not only to my grandma, but to my grandfather as well. Baking something in my own kitchen for my favorite taste tester that my grandma baked countless times for the love of her life makes my heart happy.
So, what did my Chief Culinary Consultant think of these cookies after waiting years for me to make them? He said they were amazing and that this is a totally kick-ass recipe. Well done, Grandma, well done.
Make the Dough: Cream together the sugar and margarine on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, eggs, flour and milk. Continue to mix until just about all of the flour is incorporated. Add the baking powder, baking soda and vanilla extract and mix to combine. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Make the Filling: In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and ¼ cup of the water to form a paste. Stir in the remaining water, lemon juice and raisins. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and the raisins plump, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature before using.
Assemble and Bake the Cookies: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Using about 1/3 of the dough at a time, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/8-inch thickness. (The dough is very soft and sticky, so use as much flour as necessary to roll it out without it sticking.) Cut the dough into rounds (I used a 2¾-inch cookie cutter). Place one on prepared baking sheet, spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the raisin filling onto the circle and then top with another round of dough. Just lay the circle on top of the filling; there is no need to seal them shut, as they will do so while baking. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Bake the cookies until lightly golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes on the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.