Date-Nut Bars (aka Food for the Gods)


This is the recipe I used for my version of Food for the Gods that was put on the same plate and post with 3 other commercially purchased versions the other day. The recipe is from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, a must have tome for any decent cookbook library, along with her other fftgd2cookie and dessert books. A non-chef, she is a self-taught, obsessive compulsive, anal-retentive baker in her golden years… Almost everything I have baked from her books has come out pretty good, and the practical tips she gives are priceless…like chilling your chocolate chip dough for at least an hour, forming the cookie with hands first dipped in ice cold water before popping them into the oven…it results in a markedly different cookie than if you didn’t do these things. Warning to all those FFTGs lovers… if your frame of reference is the soft airy namby pamby locally prevalent version, this recipe is NOT for you. This recipe results in a dense, heavy, weighty, fruity and nutty BAR and not a cakey confection. You were forewarned.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with aluminum foil that you press gently against the sides to remove and air pockets (the original recipe calls for a 9 x 13 pan but I find the bars come out too thin). fftg3Brush the aluminum foil with melted butter. In a bowl, sift together 1 cup all purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. In a mixer bowl, beat ½ cup (though I added 3 tablespoons more) melted butter and 1 cup granulated sugar until mixed. Add 2 large eggs and beat until incorporated, say a minute or so. Add the dry ingredients and mix only until incorporated, do not overmix. Add 2 cups pitted and coarsely chopped dates and 2 cups chopped walnuts and mix this by hand with a wooden spoon. Spread this thick sludge into the foil lined pan carefully and evenly. Bake for say 30+ minutes until a light golden brown. Don’t overdo it, as it can dry out. Take out and cool on a cookie rack. Cut into desired size of squares. Also, if you are starting with very dry dates, you might want to soak them in a little warm water for 30 minutes beforehand to moisten them up a bit. Even better, use some brandy and have alcoholic fruit and nut bars… Ms. Heatter suggests that once the cookies are cool you sprinkle them with sifted powdered confectioners sugar…I think that is a bit over the top…the bars by themselves are delicious, nutty, fruity and not overly sweet.


28 Responses

  1. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Dense and heavy is right up my alley! I love dates and almost all dried fruit. Recently I tried a brownie that had nuts, dates and figs in it. It was served a la mode with some pistachio ice cream and a cherry coulis on the side. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work but the result was lovely. Have you ever had a brownie with dried fruit? Any suggestions on how to replicate? I was thinking of just using a favorite brownie recipe and go from there although something tells me its not going to be the same!

  2. I have heard so many great things about this book by Maida Heatter. There is even a blog out there which is devoted to testing out the recipes one by one, and the writer has a forum of office mates/testers who comment on them. I would have to put this on the “to buy” list along with Alice Medrich’s.

    Thanks MM for the heads up.

  3. When I make this type of cake, I prick the entire top cake and pour a combination of melted butter, milk, and sugar to moisten it.

  4. Marketman, I havent baked in my life, but seeing this delicious recipe makes me want to try it out for a change. Wish me luck!

  5. Berry, this is as easy a recipe as it can get. Just don’t overmix, and use top quality butter, dates and fresh walnuts. Don’t substitute ingredients the first time you try this. Good luck. Once you do your virgin bake, there is no turning back… Jean, that sounds delicious… Ria, the book is a must have. Alicia, I would try a dense brownie recipe, add the figs and dates or nuts and not overcook…sounds good to me…maybe I’ll try that sometime soon! Brownie with dried sour cherries or cranberries. Brownie with figs…yum!

  6. Ria, could you please post info on that blog? Sounds like the Julie/Julia Project, part 2.

    I *love* reading cookbooks and am fortunate to work for a large university with access to the 22 campus libraries. This gives me a chance to preview a cookbook before deciding to buy it for myself. I’ve requested the Maida Heatter book that MM mentioned above and can’t wait to get it!

  7. Rowena, I think Santis and Terry’s might have them or this baking place called Chef’s Nook in Mandaluyong which was recently featured in Lori’s blog called DessertComesFirst, check my links… My sister send me a huge container in a Balikbayan box recently…

  8. Haven’t gone myself but I hear that there is a wholesaler in Quiapo for dates, walnuts, glazed fruits, etc. Maybe some of you know of it?

  9. Trish,
    I think you mean Killion’s; I’ve been there, but only once. They sell all sorts of stuff for baking. It’s near Villalobos St. in Quiapo.

  10. Would like to try out this recipe… MM, do you think it would be alright if I mix it by hand? using a wire whisk… don’t have an electric mixer at the moment. Thanks.

  11. Claire, yes this is very doable by hand. In fact, it’s better the first time you try the recipe so you don’t overbeat it which is a typical tendency. Just whisk the sugar and butter together in a large bowl, it will be rather thick. Then whisk in the egg yolks and the mixture will thin and become more fluid.Add the dry ingredients and whisk until the flour just disappears and continue with recipe…good luck!

  12. i always make food for the gods … it’s so yummy … but the thing that i can’t make perfect the middle part is always flat … its like i have a bowl … i dont know … BUT good recipe …

  13. MM,
    Do you think the taste of the dates will be seriously affected if I use cherry brandy to soak them in?

  14. I should say, affected in a negative way? Will cherry brandy flavored dates be too awful in these bars?

  15. Traci, I have never had a cherry brandy flavored date… I don’t think it would be a nice variation to the bars, but you may still want to give it a try and find out. Who knows? You may invent a new dessert?! :)

  16. Thanks for your input, MM, but I think I will stick to your original suggestion (sort of, by sticking to unflavored liquor). Since I don’t know where my dad’s brandy is, I wonder what vodka-infused dates will taste like?
    I will report on the results :)

  17. I’ve read a number of FFTG recipes and this one intrigued me the most. After reading the comparisons you made with store-bought FFTG and this recipe, I thought I’d give it a try. There were a few things on the recipe that I did not follow. One was sifting the dry ingredients because I did not a sifter. (What’s the purpose of sifting?) I also just had margarine in my refrigerator so I used that instead of butter. And instead of using 2 cups of dates, I only used about 1.5 cups because that’s all I had. I must say though that I experimented by using only 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, only because I wanted to get that caramelized taste. Overall, I thought it tasted pretty good! I thought this recipe would not give me the cakey texture that I like but it actually had enough to balance out the crunch of the nuts and the chewy dates. My mom thought that it was on the sweet side — maybe if I had used fresh dates instead of the chopped ones which are covered with sugar, then the sweetness would’ve been perfect for her. Oh and also, I baked this in a Pyrex baking dish — just lightly greased it with Pam and did away with the foil lining — it worked well. Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I can just imagine how much better it would’ve been had I not substituted and cut back on the ingredients.

  18. Hi,

    I’m based in Cebu and I need to find supplier of of glazed fruits, raisins and walnuts who I can pay via deposit to their account and then they can send goods via 2Go to Cebu.

    Do you know of a any supplier who can do this for me? Does Killion accept this type of instruction?

    My Qty is about 50 kilos of each.



  19. hi everyone!! so lucky to stumble on this . the whole day i have been craving for food for the gods bec i got a kilo or iranian seyer dates that i have been nibbling on and got a kilo of vietnam cashew also!! yummmmy

    i love your site market man!! this has been my guideline for my daily menus :)
    thank you so much! :)

  20. Wow am glad I got into this archived recipe MM. My hubby asked me to make some FFTG as he loves them. Let me surprise him (hope it turns out well). Am normally successful with cakes that are heavy or pound cakes(always booboo with angel,chiffon..hehehehe). Will let you know….Daghan salamat. My sons are so happy when they see me armed with my mixer and baking stuff lately…

  21. hello…i’m new here, but i’ve heard of this site from Yummy mag. I would like to know the telephone number of killion in quiapo? does anybody know it? please post it here…thanks!

  22. Hi! :)
    I just saw killion’s tel no while surfing…
    It’s 733-8221 / 733-7033 / 733-2093



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