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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spiced Coconut Date Bars

Last week, before my gestational diabetes test, I decided to have a sugar blowout.  Who wouldn't?  (btw, as far as I know, I don't have it.. so the sugary summer continues!)  I made these coconut date bars from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates, with only a few minor changes.  I've made them before for holidays, and always forget how crumbly the crust is.  I think the next time I try them, I'll add 1/2 c. of applesauce to the crumb layer, just to make it stay together a bit more (and not have a bunch of it falling off while eating!)

Spiced Coconut Date Bars
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. butter
2 c. dried dates
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. unbleached white flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. rolled oats
2 Tbsp. orange zest (I just did the amount from one orange)
4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
1/2 c. grated coconut

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Oil a square baking pan (8" is good).

Toast your nuts.  I use a toaster oven, 350* for about 10 minutes, but you can also do it in a dry frying pan on the stove- you just need to watch it!

Toasting nuts makes them taste SO MUCH BETTER.  Any recipe with nuts, esp. pecans, I always do this!

In a large food processor, blend together the butter, brown sugar, spices, and baking powder together.  Add the flour in small amounts at a time, then add the oats last.  Add in 2 Tbsp. of the orange juice, and here is where I would also add in the applesauce next time.

I don't have a picture of this, but here is my secret: I don't like chopping dried dates.  They are sticky, and usually very dried out and annoying.  The next step in the recipe is chopping them, then cooking them on the stove in a cup of water until they are tender.  Since my food processor was already dirty, I cooked them, took the crumb layer of the bars out of the processor bowl, and whirled up the dates.  No one ever needs to know. :)  If you do this, add the orange zest, remaining orange juice, blend them up, and then add the coconut to the dates.

In your pan, press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom.  Carefully spread the date/coconut mixture on top.  Use a spatula for best results.  Then top with the remainder of the crumbly bits.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until the topping is golden and dark brown around the edges.  Cool for as long as you can manage (around 30 minutes more) before cutting them into bars and eating them over the sink. (oh, wait, that's just me.)

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