Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Date and Walnut Squares

The recipe for the base and topping layers of these squares is perfect - the top is crisp, the bottom layer holds together well but is still very light, and it's really quick to make as the butter and sugar are melted together before being poured onto the flour mixture.

I've used the recipe before, for these Date and Ginger Squares, but wasn't entirely happy with the filling that time. This time, I used just dates, leaving out the currants, and added finely chopped walnuts instead of ginger. This combination was really tasty, but this is one of those recipes where I can imagine a wide variety of fillings working as well - at this time of year, mincemeat springs to mind, but dried apricots cooked in orange juice, or even a thick apple purée would be worth trying too!

250g pack of chopped dates
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
75g finely chopped walnuts
170g SR flour
170g semolina (I used 50:50 mix of semolina and ground rice, as I didn't have enough semolina)
170g butter
85g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 190C, and line a 20cm(8") square baking tin with parchment.
Put the dates into a small saucepan with the honey, water and cinnamon. Bring to the boil, cover the pan, then lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed - 10 minutes at the most, so keep an eye on it! Turn off the heat.

In another small pan, melt the butter and sugar together and stir until the sugar has mostly dissolved. Tip this onto the flour and semolina mix and stir in with a spoon. It will make a crumbly mixture which looks as if it might hold together if you kneaded it, but there's no need to do this!
Put 2/3 of the dough mix into the baking tin, spread evenly and press down firmly.
Spread the date filling on top of the dough base, leaving a very small margin around the edge of the tin.
Crumble the remaining dough over the top, as evenly as possible, and press down lightly with your hand. Don't worry if there are gaps where the filling shows through.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Mark into squares or fingers as soon as the bake is removed from the oven, but leave in the tin until completely cold - they are very fragile while warm.

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