Maida Heatter’s Raisin Pillow Cookies

In my opinion, raisins are underappreciated, stuck in cereals and the occasional oatmeal cookie. In search of something different, I came across a recipe in an old book called Maida Heatter’s Cookies that I found at a library book swap. These old-fashioned cookies are reminiscent of Fig Newtons but better, a simple cookie with a more complex jammy center. I adjusted very little from the original recipe, except the cookie quantity and some clarifying language. For the orange juice, I squeezed whatever came out of the zested orange and filled the balance with water to hit the required 2/3 cup.

Maida recommends using any leftover filling as a spread with toast and butter if you run out of dough.

Makes 36 – 42 cookies


Raisin Filling

  • 1 large orange (120 grams)
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (280 grams) raisins
  • 2/3 cup (164 grams) orange juice (or part juice part water)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Cookie Dough

  • 3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (454 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (50 grams)
  • 1/3 cup (79 grams) milk


Make the Raisin Filling:

  1. With a vegetable peeler, remove the orange rind in strips. Place in a food processor with the sugar and process until the rind is chopped into small pieces.
  1. Add the raisins and juice mixture and pulse a few times to coarsely grind, until the raisins are the size of large-egg caviar.
  1. In a small saucepan, add the raisin mixture and cook over high heat until it begins to boil. Adjust the heat to low or medium-low for the mixture to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  1. Add the lemon juice and optional rum, allowing to simmer for another 3 minutes.
  1. Remove from the heat, add the butter and still until melted. Cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the Cookie Dough:

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  1. In the bowl fitted for an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  1. Add the vanilla and egg, mixing to combine and then slowly drizzle in the milk.
  1. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix to combine on low until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  1. Sandwich the dough between two sheets of wax paper, pat down until about 1-inch thick and freeze for an hour or refrigerate for several hours.

Assemble the Cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F, line half sheet pans with parchment and set aside.
  1. Working with about 1/3 of the dough at a time, keeping the remainder refrigerated as you work, roll out to 1/8-inch thick on a generously floured work surface.
  1. Cut out the dough using a 2-inch round cookie cutter and place half of the rounds on the prepared sheet pan spaced 2 inches apart.
  1. Place a scant teaspoonful of the raisin filling into the center of each cookie, keeping the filling away from the edges. Top each cookie with another round of dough, using your fingers to gently press the edges of the cookies together. Use a floured fork, press the prongs along the edges to seal.
  1. Repeat with the balance of dough and filling. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cookies are set and light brown around the edges. Immediately remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


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AnnMarie Mattilahttps://pastryathome.com
AnnMarie Mattila is a writer for Pastry Arts Magazine, as well as a freelance baker and pastry chef in New York. She has a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University and is also a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education.

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