Given my “Rah, Rah, Texas Hill Country” mood of late, I was very happy to come across a recipe for “Mrs. L.B.J.’s Moonrocks” in Maida Heatter’s Great Cookie book. For those of you who don’t know who “Mrs. L.B.J” is, it’s Ladybird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson who grew up in the nearby town of Johnson City and for whom the Johnson Space Center was named. It was clever of Ladybird to take a standard “rock cookie” recipe and call them Moonrocks.
Ladybird had lots of big parties and probably made loads of these. In fact, the original recipe starts with 4 cups of flour. I had a feeling I’d be the only one eating these today, so I scaled the recipe down to 1/3 and made so many little changes that Ladybird probably wouldn’t recognize these. I think she’d like them, though! They came out pretty good. They are definitely dry, but in a dense, flavorful way well suited for accommodating a bunch of fruits and nuts. My only regret is that I didn’t add crystallized ginger, because it would have been fabulous in these.
Here’s a picture. If you make them, I’d love to hear your results since I’ve only made them once.
Ginger & Fruit Rocks
1 1/3 cups flour, spoon and swept lightly
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon each – cinnamon, cloves, allspice (maybe a little less allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened (I used salted)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 generous tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/3 – 1/2 cup toasted coarsely chopped pecans
Sift together flour, baking soda and spices. Set aside.
In a second bowl, beat together softened butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and lemon zest. By hand, stir flour mixture into butter mixture and stir until combined. Stir in coconut, dried cranberries, dates and pecans. Chill dough for about half an hour. Shape into balls about the size of golfballs and place on an ungreased, parchment lined or non-stick cookie sheet. Press down slightly.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. As cookies cool, the edges will get crisp, but the middle stays soft.
Makes about 12-13 cookies