Monday, December 05, 2005

Date Bars

I have a "three-strike" rule. I like to try things three times before I give up on them. In my garden, that means planting something in three different places before deciding I just can't grow it. With cookbooks, it means trying three different recipes before consigning them (permanently) to the bookshelf. So, despite the crumb cake fiasco, I wanted to try another recipe from the Nestle VeryBestBaking Holiday 2005 leaflet that I received in the mail.

I've had my eye on the Date Bars recipe for a while. I've never made date bars. I thought it would be something different for me. Being a confirmed chocoholic, I have a very bad tendency to only make chocolate cakes/cookies/bars etc. I try to force myself to try other flavors.

My first problem with this recipe was that my grocery store doesn't sell chopped dates. I had to buy whole ones and chop them myself, a rather sticky business. Then I made the crust. Uh, oh. Not enough liquid. It didn't come together. At all. I literally spooned the "crust" into the pan, carefully poured the filling over it and then spooned the rest of the "crust" over the top. Even as I put the pan in the oven, I knew this was going to be a disaster.

It smelled great while it baked. It didn't look too bad coming out of the oven. It was difficult getting a piece out of the pan. Then I tasted it. It was delicious. Beyond delicious. It was almost better than chocolate. I'm ordering you to drop everything, buy dates and make this. NOW. Try increasing the butter to 3/4 cup. That's what I'm going to do when I make this again. And again. And again.

Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper.

Date Bars
(Source: Nestle VeryBestBaking Holiday 2005 leaflet)

1 pkg. (8 oz.) chopped dates
3/4 cup Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 8-inch-square baking pan.

Combine dates, evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla extract in medium saucepan. Cook, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.

Beat butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. With floured fingers, press half of crust mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan. Spread date filling over crust. Top with remaining crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. Cut into bars.

Recycle: evaporated milk can, vanilla extract bottle

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