Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas with Dan's Date & Hazelnut Bars

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 these a go and if Suelle had not already done so, I would probably have entered them for this month's date challenge.


This is what I did:
  • Simmered 375g pitted dates with 100ml orange juice and 100ml water for 10 minutes until soft. Left to cool.
  • Roasted 75g of hazelnuts for 10 mins at 180C, then rubbed off their skins and roughly chopped.
  • Rubbed 125g unsalted butter in 250g plain flour (150g wholemeal, 100g white), 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 tsp dried orange zest and 125g light muscovado sugar until mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
  • Stirred in 100g roughly chopped milk chocolate (G&B 35%) and the hazelnuts.
  • Pressed 2/3 of mixture into the bottom of a 9" sq silicone mould until firm. 
  • Spread over the date mixture.
  • Stirred in a tbsp of water into the remaining crumble to make the mixture stick a little.
  • Spooned this over the dates.
  • Baked at 180C for 30 minutes.
  • Left to cool and 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.

12 comments:

  1. Great photos, sounds like a perfect day.

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  2. I don't believe it Choclette. SNAP! Made similar bars with dates for We Should Cocoa.
    Wise minds think alike??

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  3. Glad you liked the bars - it's a super recipe, but that's what we expect from Dan Lepard!

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  4. What a wonderful way to spend Christmas Day, sorry the weather stopped you getting to the beach but Bodmin looks like it might even have been better. xx

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  5. What a glorious way to spend Christmas Day - we had that sunshine too, wasn't it a wonderful treat? I have used dates in a bar from another recipe of Dan's a few years ago, they do make the most delicious filling.

    Will have to look at this recipe again when I have recovered from Christmas food!

    Maybe I need a walk on Bodmin Moor too ;)

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  6. Man - the most walking I did on Christmas day was to the fridge!!!!

    Glad you had such a lovely day.

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  7. Two wonderful date and chocolate recipes - love these bars and all your wonderful snowy Christmas pics - sounds like you had a wonderful day - strangely as an Australian I confess the only time I went to the beach on Christmas day it was cold and windy! But not snowy at least!

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  8. Janice - thanks. Hope you had a good day too.

    Gillian - glad the bars made it into the challenge. I know they are there for hazelnuts, but they deserve their rightful place in the date challenge too :)

    Suelle - this is true. Dan has a well deserved fan club.

    Kath - the beach would have been nice, but it would have been an hours car journey either way. The moors meant we were pretty much straight out there in the lovely weather walking.

    Joanna - It's hard to believe that weather now - it's grey, raining and blowing a gale. We were very lucky and it was much appreciated.

    BVG - Thanks. You probably got as much exercise as we did toing and frowing from the fridge. I've done no proper cooking at all over the last few days.

    Johanna - You have disillusioned me - I thought all Australians spent Christmas Day on the beach ;-)

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  9. Your idea for spending Christmas Day at teh beach threw me a bit! Being Aussie born and bred I can also confess to never having spent Christmas Day at the beach ... backyard barbies are much more common lol. Great looking bars, especially love the photo of bubbles with the snowy backdrop!

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  10. It looks like you had a wonderful day - lovely photos!

    I made these bars for this month's I should Cocoa too and was so impressed with them. Left out the nuts, but otherwise made as written and the date/orange layer was a revelation! Yum, I can well understand that they were perfect for walking!

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  11. Chele - well I haven't managed it yet either - one day ;-)

    Dom - glad you approve ;)

    C - thank you. Glad you enjoyed these bars - I thought they were well worth making.

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