Friday, October 19, 2007

How to Salvage Two Bags of Aging Dates

This photo of a noisy neighbor's date tree reminded me of something I'd been meaning to make for a while.

I'm embarrassed to say this, but there were two bags of dates on the pantry shelf that I'd see out of the corner of my eye every time I passed by for the last year. Yes, the last year! So yesterday I pulled out some books from the shelf, looked in my files, and Googled the net for a recipe to use them up. Way back in the 90's I bought a series of soft-cover books put out by the California Culinary Academy, each one on a certain subject -- French, Italian, Meats, Breads -- not knowing at that time I'd actually go there in the near future for the full sixteen-month course. This very simple recipe for Food Processor Date Bars comes from the book Cookies. As the dates were a bit questionable in the texture department, I snipped them in halves and gave them a 15-minute soaking in very hot water, then drained them and proceeded with the recipe. These were a sure hit and I'll make them again. Not too sweet, even with the light coating of confectioners' sugar. They reminded me of a date bar square my mother used to make years ago. This recipe was made in an 8 x 8 square pan and yielded 16 servings. The original claims 24 squares, but I think that would be too "sensible" a size.
Food Processor Date Bars

from California Culinary Academy's Cookies

2 cups pitted dates
1 cup pecans
½ cup, each, flour and sugar
½ t baking powder
¼ cup firm butter, diced
1 egg
2 yolks
1 ½ t vanilla extract
confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350; grease, flour 8” square pan.

2. Process dates, pecans, flour, sugar, baking powder, butter. Process using on-off pulses until dates and nuts are finely chopped.

3. Beat egg, yolks, vanilla to blend. Add mixture through feed tube with motor running all at once. Process until ingredients are well coated with egg mixture. Spread evenly in pan.

4. Bake until top is golden brown, 25 – 30 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack about 10 minutes. Cut into squares. Remove from pan, turn lightly in confectioners’ sugar to coat each bar on all sides.

Makes about 16 bars.

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