(Let’s just see what kind of search engine terms that one gets me!)
I’ve told you of my love of dates and date bars before, I know. Well, there have been a few happy coincidences in recent weeks that made some appear in my very own kitchen. While trolling the market on my lunch break, I saw a guy selling plump, shiny dates for a euro a kilo! How could I resist? I briefly considered just getting half a kilo, but then I tasted one and I threw caution to the wind. Later, I was faced with a linzer dough that refused to behave – possibly because I tweaked the recipe a little too much – instead of making cute little tartlet shells, I ended up with tartlet-shaped cookies. They were tasty, but hard to fill with ganache. I decided to let the dough rest overnight, in hopes that it would settle down.
In the morning, I was telling Nick my plans for the dough. “If it doesn’t work this time, I’m turning it into date bars. Slam it in a pan, cover it with puréed dates, make some crumble topping… I almost hope it doesn’t work!” So of course the next batch of tartlet shells came out perfectly, but the date bar idea had taken hold. I used way more dates than I thought I needed, but I was pleased with the result: a firm hazelnut crust on which to spread a thick layer of sticky purée, with a crumbly, hazelnutty topping. This goes a step beyond bar cookie into dessert territory, although I keep telling myself that all the fruit, fiber, and nuts make it a perfectly virtuous breakfast.
(Click through for the recipe.)
Date Crumble Bars
For the crust:
170 g/6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
125 g/4½ oz. sugar
25 g/ ¾ oz. cake or pastry flour
30 g/ 1 oz. whole wheat flour
85 g/3 oz. hazelnut meal
3 g/ 1/8 oz. baking powder
A pinch of fine sea salt
- Preheat oven to 175 C/350 F.
- Combine the flours, hazelnut meal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Gently stir in the dry ingredients until you have a cohesive dough. Wrap one third of the dough in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for another project.
- Butter and flour a 20 cm or 8 inch square baking dish. Press the remaining two thirds of the hazelnut dough into the bottom of the pan and bake 20 minutes, or until just golden on top. Rotate the pan halfway through baking time. Let it cool while you prepare the filling.
For the date purée:
500 g/ 1 lb. 1½ oz. pitted dates, roughly chopped
120 ml/ ½ cup water, boiling
- Pour the boiling water over the chopped dates in a heatproof bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let steam 15 minutes. Now would be a good time to make the topping.
- Purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender, adding more water a teaspoon at a time, if necessary. The purée need not be completely smooth.
For the hazelnut crumble topping:
65 g/ 2¼ oz. hazelnut meal
35 g/ ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
40 g/ 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
40 g/ 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
20 g/ ¼ cup rolled oats
- Combine the hazelnut meal, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add butter and stir until evenly moistened. Mix in the oats (the best way to do this is with your hands).
- Use to top date bars, crumbles, pies…
- Smear the date purée in an even layer over the hazelnut crust. Sprinkle the crumble on top and press in gently. Bake until golden brown and crisp – you should see a few bubbles around the edges – about 30 minutes.
- Serve warm or room temperature. Will keep, covered in foil, up to 5 days.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.