Dried fruit is usually tucked to the back of the pantry through the summer months, while we make use of the fresh fruits available. As the leaves change colour, they slowly they sneak their way forward to the front of the shelf, to be tucked into salads, cookies and loaves. These little pastries, Cumberland Rum Nickies, are filled with dates and ginger and are one of our favourite treats to greet fall with.
Friends brought the original recipe home to me after travelling in Cumberland on the northwest coast of England years ago. I must admit, I was intrigued by the name, and once a batch was made, they firmly seated themselves into my favourites. Perhaps they appealed to my heritage.
Very simple to make, they last well in a sealed container (unless they all get eaten in the first day). Also, they make a good addition to any holiday baking, as they don’t really have a comparable cookie or tart.
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1 recipe of prepared Basic Pastry dough for a 2-crust pie (using 3 c of flour)
1½ oz of crystallized ginger, ¼” chop
1T brown sugar
Sugar to dust
Bring the dates and water to a simmer over medium low heat.
Stew for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.
Remove from heat, and mash them with a fork.
Add in the ginger, rum, brown sugar, and butter.
Stir thoroughly until butter is melted.
Leave this to sit while rolling the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 375°
Dust the work surface with flour and roll out ½ of the pastry. Not too thinly, the thicker side of ⅛ of an inch.
Cut into 3” rounds. You should get about 22.
Lay out on parchment lined baking sheets.
Evenly spoon about a teaspoon of the filling into the center of each round. Use one teaspoon to scoop and another to push off onto the pastry round, using up the filling.
Roll out the second half of the pastry dough, and cut into 3” rounds, about 6 at a time.
Lightly brush the base rounds with a bit of water around the edge.
Place the top round over, sealing the edges with a fork.
Continue until all are covered and sealed.
Nick the top of each with a sharp knife, in two short gashes.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes until just staring to turn brown.