Journeying through baking, I always return to my grandmother’s recipe cards for their familiar handwriting and to re-live the flavor memories that were created. I can see why my grandmother and possibly her mother made them, they are rich, sweet, and moist, just as a bar should be. Like I do with many of my grandmother’s recipes, I have decreased the sugar (using agave instead because I had some on hand), used whole wheat flour, and swapped out the shortening for butter. I added the cardamom and infused the butter with zest from the honeybell oranges that I have been saving in the freezer. The end result has a gentle but spicy floral aroma and a mysterious flavor not immediately obvious, which was the cardamom. I think that my grandmother would approve of these. They are awesome with coffee or tea. You could also serve these in slices with a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream.
MAKES 12-18 BARS (DEPENDING ON SIZE)
- 2 eggs, beaten until foamy
- 1/2 cup agave or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted with three pieces of orange zest (I used my carrot peeler)
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups finely chopped dates
- 2/3 cups pistachios (or nut of your choice), toasted and chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350F and butter and flour a 9 inch square or springform pan.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs with the agave syrup and vanilla. Stir in the melted and cooled butter (remove and discard orange zest).
- In a small mixing bowl combine the flour, cardamom, baking powder, salt, dates, nuts, and toss to coat and mix everything.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until flour thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.