Monday, January 7, 2013

To Feed the Sweet Tooth

Food for the Gods

Sometimes you just want to create something sweet just for the heck of it. It can be a gesture, a poem, a mix tape, a note... or, if you were unglamorously domesticated me, it can be pastry. A couple of days ago, I dusted off the last recipe card of food for the gods (date and walnut bars) that I was working with and gave it another whirl.

As I mentioned here somewhere, I tried to make food for the gods before. Once, and unfortunately, without much success. But I am not one to give up so easily once I have set my sights on a particular baking project so I thought back on what could have possibly gone wrong the last time and I prayed I rectify it on my second try. For starters, I halved the original recipe to fit my 8 x 8 pan.

That second time, it baked properly. (It baked in half an hour.) Moist and chewy, it was no longer as inedible as the goo that resulted from my first shot at baking food for the gods, and the flavor, I thought, was there. But I still found it a bit too oily for my taste and, er, fingers and I thought the recipe could still do with a bit of tweaking.

So on to my third try. From the original recipe (see below), I deducted 1/8 cup of the melted butter and replaced it with with 1/8 cup of evaporated cup. That did it for me. A bit less oily and a bit more creamy, the resultant bars of sticky, golden pastry studded with exotic dates and decadent chunks of walnuts were divine and definitely worth sharing, if not with gods, at least with dearest friends.

Food for the Gods
(Chewy Version)

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. honey or light molasses
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9" x 13" rectangular pan OR 2 – 8" square pans with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. Sift the all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder together. Divide this mixture into two. Use one-half to dredge the chopped dates.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, sugar and eggs. Mix until well-blended. Add in the honey or molasses and vanilla extract.
4. Fold in the dry ingredients to the batter mixture. Lastly, fold in the dates and walnuts. Pour the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or check doneness with a cake tester. Insert tester close to the side. It should come out clean and dry. The center would still be a little wet when tested. Cool completely. Slice into bars.

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