gourmet DATE butter PASTE {used in 2 recipes}

Citrus, Rum and Vanilla round out the sweetness of plump date fruits.
This smooth, buttery Date paste blends well into cookies as well as square bars etc.

The slight melancholy month of November certainly represents a...
special appreciation for those who sacrifice themselves for others.
 On a personal note, the harvest of plump dates into November represent a...
comforting feeling I had when my 'Nonna' made date squares.  
Now, that’s one tiny sacrifice no one should ever pass up ;o)

Every time she would open that airtight sweets tin, the aroma got me each time.  
As sweet as they were, one date square was never enough.
I did however promise to eat my veggies first...
at the very least share them with her to finish quickly.
Do you think she was onto to me?
...Well, apparently she was sneakier than I was as a child...go figure.

Much has changed in my baking style from those earlier times in my life.  
My sweet tooth is not as greedy and I've developed a...
slight gourmet flare when re-making some of my Mom's and my Nonna's recipes.

Here, I dabbled into a few contrasting ingredients which enhanced this iconic treat.

gourmet DATE butter paste
Note: This date paste recipe makes a large quantity.  
It uses a combination of pitted Medjool dates along with pressed dates.  

makes about 5-1/2 cups
(the extra amount can be reserved for repeats or other recipes)

(mostly American measures)

. 2 lb. (907g) Medjool dates, pitted
[4 cups (~10-12 dates)/ cup]
. 1/2 cup organic, granulated sugar
. 1/2 cup frozen orange concentrate
. 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
. 2 cups water
. 2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
. 1 Tbsp. dark Rum (optional)
. 1 pkg. (17.6oz./ 500g) pressed dates

. In a medium saucepan, soak for 30 minutes, all the ingredients except for the vanilla and Rum.
. On MED-HIGH, while frequently stirring, bring the mix to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to MED-LOW and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken.  Add the vanilla and Rum.
. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes before adding in the pressed dates package.  Break it up and combine.  
. Later, place the mix into a blender to smoothen. Pour it into a bowl and cool completely.  This paste freezes well.
Note: for the recipes mentioned below...reserve 2 cups for the squares recipe and 1/2 cup for the cookies. Store the rest in the freezer for other recipes or a repeat of these mentioned here. 
This date butter paste came out so incredibly tasty that I later integrated it into a cookie recipe as well. 
Did I mention how this spreadable date butter was heaven on a toast with creamy goat cheese ;o)


gourmet style 
DATE butter square bars
yields about 18 medium pieces

(American measures)

. 2 cups homemade Date butter paste 
Oatmeal Coconut Almond crumble:
. 3 cups 'old fashioned' rolled oats
. 3/4 cup all purpose flour
. 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
. 1/8 cup grapeseed oil
. 1/2 cup brown sugar
. 1/4 tsp. sea salt
. 1 tsp. ground cinnamon spice
. 1/2 cup almonds, slivered
. 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded

. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  
. Position the rack in the center of the oven.
. Prepare a parchment lined 9x12 inch shallow pan.
Oatmeal Coconut Almond crumble:
. In a food processor, pulse together the oats and the flour.  Add in the butter and continue to pulse.  
. Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the almonds and coconut.  Whirl the ingredients until a light paste is formed.
. Spread out 3/4 of the crumble mix and pat down to make a solid base.  Add and spread out the date butter paste.  
. Afterwards, toss in the almonds and coconut in the remaining crumble mix.  Sprinkle it on the date butter as a top coat.  Lightly press down.
. BAKE for 35-40 minutes or until golden.  Remove it from the oven and transfer the pan to a rack until completely cooled before cutting pieces.  
. Stores well in a tin box for about two weeks or freezes in an airtight container for six months.

OATMEAL and DATE BUTTER nut cookie
makes 16 medium-large cookies

(American measures)

WET mix:
. 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
. 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
. 1/2 cup brown sugar
. 1/2 cup homemade Date butter paste **
. 2 large egg whites, room temperature
DRY mix:
. 2-1/2 cups 'old fashioned' rolled oats
. 1 cup all purpose flour
. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
. 1/2 tsp. ground Allspice
. 1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon spice
. 1 orange, finely zested
. 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
. 1 cup Medjool dates, * pitted, chopped

* It's preferable to pre-soak the dates for about 15 minutes and then strain the liquid out.
** Date butter paste...refer to the homemade version OR use regular pressed date paste.

. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
. Position rack in the center of the oven.
. Prepare 2 large parchment lined baking sheets.
WET mix:
. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, oil and brown sugar until creamy.  Add the date butter paste and egg whites.  Continue to beat until lightly fluffy.
DRY mix:
. In a medium bowl, whisk ALL the ingredients together except for the nuts and dates.  Set aside.
. Pour the DRY mix into the WET mix.  Use a strong spatula to combine until all traces of flour have disappeared.  Do not over mix.  Lastly, add in the dates and nuts.
. With the aid of an ice-cream scoop, make packed, levelled volumes of cookie dough and place 8 mounds per baking sheet.  This batter does not really spread much.  Then, strongly flatten the dough with the bottom of a glass. 
. BAKE for 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and wait another 10 minutes before transferring them onto a rack to cool.  Repeat with the second pan.
. Store in a cookie tin or freeze with a parchment paper package and into a freezer bag.

Remember November for its continued beauty as it hangs on to its fleeting natural forces.  It will slowly blend itself into welcoming another season which will bring many more treats to the table.

Thank you to all who have placed themselves selflessly in the line of precarious moments to help others appreciate life.

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.
Also...a special treat with dates can also be found into this appetizer ;o)

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new to the'll thank me later.