As much as I love baking for others and sharing my treats, it's also lovely to only think about what I want to eat or what I want to try. So often I'm obsessed with finding the perfect recipe for someone based on their personality and preferences, I forget about what I like to eat. It's okay to be a little selfish every now and then. Plus, when Andrea and Ruth asked who I was baking for and I said, "the blog," they became excited because they knew they were the ones benefiting!
I stumbled upon this recipe in an English cookbook I received as a gift from a friend an eternity ago. To be honest, I don't know if I have ever made anything from the cookbook before. In an effort to use all my cookbooks this year, I plucked this book off the shelf.
While leafing through, I paused at this recipe. Not only did I have dates on hand (purchased for some vegan baking that never happened), but this recipe seemed perfectly simple and easy enough to throw together on a Saturday evening.
I'm glad I chose this recipe. This is a terrible word, but these bars are just nice; not too sweet or heavy or flavorful. The cake portion has a soft, light, moist texture and the date filling is a little bit creamy and sweet enough to hold everything together. This is a cake bar that doesn't feel like a dessert; this is definitely a snack cake that I imagine would be lovely for tea time or an afternoon luncheon. I look forward to making this recipe again with different flavor notes; perhaps a touch of citrus or a bit more chocolate. Who knows? The possibilities could be endless!
One Year Ago: Irish Car Bomb Brownies
Date Bars Adapted from Sweet Food, page 53 Yield - 16 squares in an 8x8 pan
175 g (about 12) dates, deseeded and chopped 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 teaspoons cocoa powder 10 g (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter 1 cup water pinch of salt 125 g (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature 125 g (1/2 cup) sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 egg 250 g (2 cups) flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt powdered sugar
- Chop the dates and add them to a small saucepan with the brown sugar, cocoa, 10 grams of butter, water, and pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Spread the mixture on a plate and place in the fridge to cool.
- Prepare an 8 x 8” pan by greasing it and then laying down parchment paper with two overhanging sides.
- Cream together 125 grams of butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla and scrape the bowl as needed.
- Sift together the flour, powder, and salt onto parchment paper. Mix into the butter mixture by hand until just combined.
- Divide the dough in half and press half the dough into the prepared pan. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Knead the other half of dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and place in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Evenly spread the date mixture over the bottom crust. Use a grater to grate the remaining dough over the top evenly.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Let cool completely, over night is easiest. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before slicing and serving.