The first time I baked food for the gods, I used a recipe printed on a Maya Hotcake Mix box. The second time resulted in baking accident and the food for the gods became the accidental fruit cake. The third attempt illustrates the saying that “Two’s company; three’s a crowd.” My third attempt just bumped off the two previous attempts. I baked a large batch of food for the gods last Saturday and served the cookies to dinner guests as dessert.
The best food for the gods I have baked so far — moist and chewy at the center but dry on top. That means they can be individually wrapped and placed in a box or a pouch and given away as a very personal and special Christmas gift.
By what kind of miracle was I able to bake these gorgeous squares? Believe it or not — by NOT following a recipe. I used a tried-and-tested recipe for butterscotch brownies (from my sister-in-law) but I did not melt the butter in a sauce pan. I simply allowed to it soften at room temperature before I added the rest of the ingredients.
- 200 g. of pitted dates
- 200 g. of walnuts
- 1-1/4 c. of butter, softened to room temperature
- 5 c. of lightly (not loosely) packed dark brown sugar
- 3-3/4 c. + 1 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
- 5 tsps. of baking powder
- 2-1/2 tsps. of salt
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place the dates on a chopping board and sprinkle with one tablespoonful of flour. Chop coarsely. “Coarsely” is subjective as it is a matter of preference how small you want the pieces of dates to be in the baked product. I like mine pretty small but you can always chop them into larger pieces. Transfer the chopped dates to a bowl and set aside.
- Chop the walnuts to roughly the same size as the chopped dates. Add to the dates in the bowl.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla essence. Add the flour in batches, mixing with a wooden spoon. The batter will be very heavy. Finally, stir in the dates and walnuts.
- Cover the bottom and sides of a 12-1/2 x 17-1/2 x 1 jelly roll pan with non-stick baking paper. Allowing overhangs on the long sides is useful so that you slide off the baked food for the gods on a cooling rack in one piece.
- Pour the batter into the pan scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure you get all of the batter into the pan. Level off with a spatula. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Watch the last few minutes closely so that just as soon as it’s sufficiently baked, you can turn off the oven at once and take out the pan.
- Then, cool in the pan for 10 minutes to firm it up a bit. Holding one end of the baking paper overhang with one hand and holding the pan at a 45-degree angle with the other, pull out the baked food for the gods and slide onto a cooling rack. Cool for another 15 minutes or so. While still a bit warm, cut into 1-1/2 or 2-inch squares. Cool completely. Place on festive colored paper cups or wrap in colored Japanese paper.