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date and nut bars

I thought you might be getting a bit sick of my travel posts so here's a little bit of baking for you. I spent a quiet weekend at home last weekend trying to shake off a cold. I needed to make something for a work morning tea so I decided to make some date squares.



I love date squares but they're so crumbly so I looked through my recipes trying to come up with a less crumbly version. I decided to make
Ottolenghi's raspberry oat bars
using my usual date square filling instead of raspberry jam.



The only trouble was, I couldn't taste a thing and I do sweeten the filling by taste.

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One of my colleagues brought huge bunches of these flowers into work. It was such a gloomy Sunday in Sydney I thought the flowers might brighten up the day.

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The finished product. They looked okay and they're a little less crumbly than my normal version. I took them into work keeping my fingers crossed that they tasted okay. From all reports they were pretty good so here's the recipe for you
.


Date and Nut Bars (adapted from Ottolenghi) 

Base: 
120g all purpose (plain) flour 
¼ tsp baking powder 
100g unsalted butter, diced 
60g caster sugar 
80g whole rolled oats 

Filling: 
1½ cups chopped dried dates
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
3 tsp grated lemon rind
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
⅓ cup water 

Topping: 
70g flaked almonds 
70g walnuts, coarsely chopped
70g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
70g brazil nuts, coarsely chopped 
100g unsalted butter 
75g caster sugar 
40ml milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the filling, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the dates are soft. I usually find I need to add extra water as the date mixture cooks down - ⅔ cup extra in total. I don’t normally add any extra sugar but sweeten with brown sugar to taste. Allow the date filling to cool completely before using.


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Lightly grease a 20cm / 8in square tin and line it on all sides with parchment paper. 

To make the base, in a large bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the butter and sugar and rub everything together with your fingers to form crumbs. Mix in the oats (this is easiest done with your hands). Spread the mixture over the bottom of the prepared tin and press down lightly. Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown. Remove from the oven, cool for a few minutes, and then spread evenly with the date filling.

To make the topping, place the nuts in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then pour over the nuts and mix together. Pack the nut mixture evenly over the date filling and press down before returning to the oven for 30 minutes or until the top has turned golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack, then remove from the tin by pulling on the parchment paper, and cut into bars. 


I cooled the bars in the fridge for 1 hour before cutting into bars.



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Can you believe Christmas is around the corner? I was thinking about Christmas week, you know the one where I feature recipes sent to me by family, friends and readers. 
Instead of baking, I was wondering how you'd feel about sending me your favourite holiday sweet or candy recipe? 

I used to make candy all the time when I was growing up and I recently bought a digital thermometer so I feel ready to tackle candy making again. However, apart from rum balls and white christmas, I can't think of any particularly Australian christmas sweets. 

I'd love it if you could help me out, so please send some of your favourite or traditional Christmas candy recipes to me at info@jillianleiboff.com

Bye for now,

Jillian
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2 comments

  1. I must admit I can't think of an Australian candy either! Perhaps if we infused the ideas of rum balls into a caramel... gosh, that would be delicious. These date bars look delicious and I do love a recipe that can easily be changed up with fillings.

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  2. Hi Jasmine Ann,

    I didn't have much luck with Aussie sweet suggestions in the end. Thankfully my friends have come up trumps and provided me with loads of ideas. Nothing very Aussie but I've thrown some Australian flavours into the mix with a few international treats as well. I've not made any of them before so keep your fingers crossed they all turn out first time. In the meantime I'll need to load up the kitchen with kilos of sugar, chocolate, fruit and nuts and litres of cream and golden syrup and start cooking.

    P.S. For a touch of Christmas, I'm sure the date bars would work really well with a layer of fruit mince.

    J

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