Friday, May 27, 2011
Date and Mixed Nut Bars
So I know that dried fruit really lasts a long time and I don’t worry too much about having raisins, dried cranberries and the like in my cupboard. But still, eventually it’s time to use them up and rotate them out! While dates are a little bit different, I’ve had these dates in my refrigerator for quite a while and I figured it was high time to figure out how to use them! These are beautiful Blonde Dates from Shields Date Garden in Indio (near Palm Springs), California. We visited there a while back and have been buying their dates since.
So how do you use up dates? Date bars are the first thing that comes to mind, but I had made a traditional date bar already. Sticky toffee pudding uses dates, but not all that many of them. I was looking through my Christmas baking magazines and stumbled across this recipe which seemed like a cross between date bars and pecan pie. I don’t think of dates as being particularly Christmas-y, so I figured why not give them a shot? Besides, the weather here in the Seattle area reminds me more of fall than spring, so why not do some holiday-ish baking!
I took a shortcut and made the base for these bars in the food processor. It’s tough to cut in a lot of butter by hand. That seemed to work with no problem and it was less messy. Pitting and chopping the dates was a messy, sticky task, so I was all about keeping the kitchen clean. (Buy chopped dates if you don’t have dates on hand: way easier.) The filling is very close to pecan pie: brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, nuts and dates. If corn syrup isn’t your thing, feel free to substitute honey or golden syrup. These look a lot like pecan pie when they are baked. I let mine sit overnight since I didn’t want to risk cutting them while warm. They are sticky as it is! These are so, so good. The dates, corn syrup and brown sugar melt together into this sweet filling which is set off by the crunch of the nuts and the buttery cookie base. Wow, why did I wait so long to make these?
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter
I cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup butter, melted
8 ounces chopped dates
11 ounces unsalted mixed nuts, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the ¾ cup butter into small cubes and add it to the mixture. Process, using second-long pulses, until the mixture is crumbly. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until light brown.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, and eggs. Add the ½ cup melted butter and whisk again to combine. Stir in the dates, nuts, and vanilla. Pour evenly over the baked crust. Bake for 33-35 minutes, or until the center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Using the foil, lift the bars to a cutting board; peel away the foil and cut into bars.
Recipe from Paula Deen’s Holiday Baking