For Christmas this year, we were going take a break from tradition and have Christmas lunch on the beach with friends. Something robust, nutritious, filling and delicious was needed for this and what better candidate to take along than Dan Lepard’s chocolate crumble date bars.
This was yet another post I first saw on Suelle’s fabulous blog, Mainly Baking as her October entry for We Should Cocoa. It was only a matter of time before I gave them a go and if Suelle had not already done so, I would probably have entered them for this month’s date challenge.
Dan’s Date and Hazelnut Bars – The Recipe
- 375g pitted dates
- 1 orange – juiced and zested
- 100ml water
- 75g hazelnuts (or use ready roasted hazelnuts)
- 125g unsalted butter – fridge cold and cubed
- 250g flour (150g wholemeal, 100g plain white)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 125g light muscovado sugar
- 100g milk chocolate – roughly chopped (I used Green & Black’s 35%)
- Simmer the dates, orange juice and water in a pan for ten minutes until soft. Leave to cool.
- Roast the hazelnuts for ten minutes at 180℃ (160℃ fan, 350℉, Gas 4) , then rub off their skins with a kitchen paper or a clean tea towel and roughly chop. Omit this step if you have ready roasted and skinned hazelnuts.
- Place the butter, flour, baking powder, cocoa, orange zest and sugar into a large bowl. Rub together between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the chocolate and hazelnuts.
- Press two thirds of the mixture into the bottom of a 23 cm (9″) sq silicone mould or lined baking tin until firm.
- Spread over the date mixture.
- Stir a tbsp of water into the remaining third of the crumble to make the mixture stick a little.
- Spoon over the date base.
- Bake at 180℃ (160℃ fan, 350℉, Gas 4) for 30 minutes.
- Leave to cool then cut into 16 squares.
As it happened, we didn’t make it to the beach. The roads were just too difficult to negotiate, so we had a stomp around Bodmin Moor instead.
It was a glorious day, sunny and without a breath of wind. We sat atop Sharp Tor and ate our sandwiches, with coats and hats stripped off. As we ate the date slices, we surveyed the wonderful snowy scenery that lay before us for miles around.
The slices were just what I was hoping for – filling, crumbly, rich and unctuous. The hazelnuts gave a lovely crunch and the chocolate pieces an unexpected and welcome addition. I had been a bit concerned that, because of their crumbly nature, they wouldn’t hold together very well.
Luckily, they were in fine fettle by the time we made it to our lunch spot and that was despite being bumped around in a rucksack for an hour or two. Thanks to Dan for this much appreciated take on the traditional date slice.