Thanks P for the title inspiration.
I am currently in a place that is so hard to get to, you can’t buy a ticket. Let me describe it to you:
2. listening to my new favourite tune – Black Sands by Bonobo and thinking about the incredible film that it is the soundtrack to, and also imagining that one day I might get back onto a river with a paddle in my hand;
3. Smelling the spiciness of what I just baked, and enjoying the anticipation before biting into one*;
* update: smelled better than it tasted
It’s the weekend, which is a time full of kids, mess, fatigue, friends, dinners, dishes, playing outside, and of course, snacks. On Friday, I tried to prepare for the onslaught by making soups and snacks ahead of time so that I could spend the weekend enjoying Frida’s company instead of cooking. That was a mistake (aw, not totally. We did end up spending a minute or two outside with no tears – neither mine nor hers). But I did end up with some really yummy date squares, which I am going to share with all y’all. Virtually, of course.
Date squares make me happy cause they are full of dates, for one thing, which despite looking like cockroaches and being tooth-achingly, cloyingly sweet on their own, turn into a thing of beauty when simmered with some citrus. Paired with a crumbly, oaty crust, they become a small-hand-holdable, backpack-packable, cold-hardy, nutritious, calorie-laden winter snack. You can feel like you’re getting lots of good stuff when you eat one. And they go really well with strong black coffee.
This recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates had pleased me once before, but I had made a note in the margin saying that there was not enough date stuff for the amount of crust stuff. So I upped the dates here. And I omitted the walnuts in the crust, cause of that “allergy” of Ben’s. Also, I played around with the citrus addition, adding some zest to the crust before filling it and simmering the dates in OJ instead of water. I love the way the zippy orange and lemon play off the sweetness of the dates.
In a couple minutes, it’s my turn to go for a ski by myself, so I’ll keep this one brief. I’ll just let you find your zester and get on with this recipe.
Citrus-Date Whammy Bahs
Adapted wholeheartedly from”Spiced Coconut Date Bars” from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates by The Moosewood Collective
Makes 16, 2″ squares
3 cups pitted, chopped dates
1 cup orange juice
Zest of 1 medium orange, divided in 2 (the zest, not the orange)
Zest of 1 lemon, divided in 2 (ditto)
1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter, go on)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups spelt flour (or unbleached white, or half white half whole wheat, or whatever pleases you)
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?)
1 cup rolled oats (quick oats preferably)
Optional: 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2. Combine the dates and OJ in a pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the dates are soft. Add in half the orange and lemon zest along with the coconut and set aside.
3. While the dates are simmering, prepare the crust. Mix the oil or butter and the brown sugar in a large bowl or food processor. Add the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder, give it a stir, then add in the oats and mix till blended. The dough will be quite crumbly. Firmly pat about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the pan, working it up the sides too. Sprinkle the remaining orange and lemon zest over the bottom crust. [maybe you want walnuts? Add 1/2 cup toasted walnuts to the dough now.]
4. Spread the date mixture evenly over the bottom crust, and crumble the rest of the dough on top, patting it a bit (give it some love, you know?).
5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the topping is golden and dark brown around the edges. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares. These freeze well, but ours just about made it through the weekend – and then were gone. No freezer required.