Monday, December 18, 2006

Chewy Date-Nut Bars

I decided to help my mother and my aunt out by making some bars for the reception after my grandmother's funeral. When I volunteered I didn't have any set plans or recipes in mind so I started paging through the bar cookie section of the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion,trying see what jumped out at me. I have to admit, this is my favorite book. Every recipe I've tried worked the first time and tasted great. The variety of recipes means I have recipes for just about any occasion. In fact, when I first started baking again over a year ago, this was the first book I bought and have used consistently since.

While paging through the different recipes, I only had one guideline in mind: no chocolate. I wanted something that everyone could try and Lorrie and my uncle Joel don't eat chocolate. It was a good thing I had this rule too. These were one of the few non-chocolate choices at the reception. Other people had brought a lot of things that contained chocolate. This date bar caught my attention because the description talked of yellowed recipes and of days past. 'Historic' or 'back in the olden days' anything will always make me stop and look.

Now, my dad likes date bars a lot. My aunt Nancy makes date bars he absolutely loves. Her bars have a very strong date flavor (duh, hence the name) which is not the rest of the family's cup o' tea. These bars had a more subtle date flavor and received a thumbs up from every member of the family and many of Lorrie's coworkers. I really thought these bars were good. They were moist and chewy with a little sweetness and a little flavor of date while the walnuts provided a little tooth when you bit into the bars. I will make these again.

Chewy Date-Nut Bars
from page 195 of the The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook

Makes about 16 bars

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (8 oz) brown sugar (I used dark)
1 cup (4 oz) chopped walnuts
1 cup (5 1/4 oz) chopped dates
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a mixing bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, beat the eggs until frothy. In a different bowl, add the flour, salt, baking powder, and brown sugar and whisk together until they are sufficiently mixed. Add these dry ingredients to the eggs and stir until mixed. Fold in the dates and walnuts. Grease a 9x9 inch pan. Put the batter into the pan and spread evenly. I recommend using your fingers. Make sure they are well greased because this batter is very sticky. Bake the bars for 18 to 22 minutes. They are done when they are golden brown and the top of the bars is shiny. Since we want chewy bars, not crunchy, the center should be slightly wet when a toothpick or tester is inserted into the middle. Overbaking will dry these bars out making them crunchy. Cool them completely before cutting. Dust the tops with powdered sugar.


FreyaE said...

These look really good! I made some Date/Pecan Blondies recently and I think I overcooked the butter and sugar and it went very chewy but tasted awesome so I probably - accidentally - made a rough approximation of your chewy nut date bars!
Nicer than Chocolate Brownies I think too!

Paul said...

I have to admit this recipe surprised me, I didn't expect to like them. I had a certain group of people in mind when I made them and I was not one of them. And as much as I like chocolate, I do think these bars beat a lot of brownie recipes out there.