Yelly Eats

Food for the gods, a Filipino tradition

I grew up enjoying food for the gods during Christmas and I always thought that it would be such a complicated recipe because, well, at the time, you couldn’t exactly buy the ingredients from your local supermarket.  It was such a treat when people gave us a box of these lovely sweet treats and I remember when we were handed one each after dinner so that we could make it last.  This was before my Lolo Ani opened a bakery and started baking these in huge quantities and we had food for the gods on tap every Christmas!

Food for the gods are really date and walnut bars.  I don’t really know why they’re called food for the gods, maybe because they are scrummy and so wonderfully to eat!  I’ve tried several recipes and after a few tweaking exercises, I may have cracked it.

I brought this to work today so that I could share it with my officemates.  I am merely continuing the Filipino tradition of giving away food for the gods at Christmas!

Here’s my recipe:Food for the gods aka date bars

Ingredients:

150g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
225g brown sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted
150g walnuts, coarsely chopped
150g dates, coarsley chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder together with a balloon whisk until well combined.  Add walnuts and dates and mix with a spatula until the dates and nuts are well-covered with the flour mixture and well-distributed within the flour mixture.  Doing this will ensure that the dates and the nuts do not sink to the bottom of the mixture.
  3. In a mixing bowl (am using a free standing mixer but you can also do this by hand with a balloon whisk), combine melted butter and sugars and beat until the mixture is smooth and almost creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time, making sure that the egg is well-combined before adding the next one.  Add the flour-date-nut mixture in quarters.  Mix until everything is well-distributed and you cannot see any flour.
  4. Spread mixture in a greased 17.5cm x 26.5cm (or thereabouts) pan lined with baking parchment (I learned that lining the baking pan with parchment is good because it makes it easy to release the cake from the pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  This recipe makes up to 24 squares.
Yelly Eats

Food for the gods

I’ve always loved these chewy bars.  When I was younger, you could only get food for the gods at Christmas time.  It was a favourite Christmas giveaway.  Or at least that’s how I remembered it.  I think they’re now more available in shopes and one doesn’t have to wait for Christmas to enjoy these date and walnut filled bars (although in hindsight, I think in the Philippines they used raisins or prunes and instead of walnuts they used pili)!

I thought I’d try my hand at making them myself (like I always say, necessity is the mother of invention!).  I looked for the simplest recipe and hit the jackpot with the one I’m sharing.  It’s not as moist as I thought it would be (but that might be because I forgot to add the 1 tablespoon of honey that’s required or it might be that the oven was a tiny bit too hot!  Practice makes perfect and I have enough dates for a few more attempts.  I will revise the recipe when I’ve found MY perfect medium) but it certainly tasted the way I remembered it.

If you try the recipe, let me know how you get on, please!  I definitely welcome sharing trade secrets! 🙂

Adapted from: http://gourmeted.com/2007/12/12/food-for-the-gods/

Ingredients:

Makes 16 – 20 bars

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F or 180C.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper (wax paper will do just fine).  You can use a 13.5″ x 8″ pan.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add chopped dates and chopped walnuts and mix until dates and walnuts are coated with flour and evenly distributed in the flour mixture.  Set aside.
  3. Beat eggs and sugars until well-incorporated.  Add vanilla extract (Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa, says to use the best that you can because the better ingredients you have because the product turns out better) and the honey.  Add the melted butter until well-incorporated.
  4. Fold in the flour-date-walnut mixture until batter is uniform and everything is mixed well.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on the oven).  Test with a toothpick.  It should be done if the toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely before slicing into bars or squares.