During the holiday season in the Philippines, particularly in the cities, one sweet treat that makes its appearance in cafes and groceries all over is this delicious cookie bar with a funny name - Food for the gods. It is essentially a rich and buttery date and walnut bar. There is a debate as to how it got its name.
Some have said it was called "food for the gods" not so much because of anything that connotes some kind of a religious offering but because the ingredients are quite expensive and not normally affordable for the masses. So the so-called "gods" are the rich people or those in authority who have the means to buy or make these sweet treats. Considering that these have dates and walnuts (produce not really indigenous to the Philippines - though some palm dates have grown of late in one of islands in the south) I can reasonably accept this explanation 'cause I found myself wondering before how something that has foreign ingredients can be so popular in my native land.
It did not originate in the Philippines for sure and some trace it to either the Spanish Pan de Datiles (Date and Walnut Cake) or the American Date Bars. Regardless of which was the original inspiration for these bars, just one bite of these chewy, buttery bars will make you understand why it's such a huge favorite during Christmas time. It is just so very tasty, so truly yummy and quite more-ish so beware that one bar is not enough once you start eating it. It's perfect with a strong cup of coffee and certainly with tea, too. This particular version that I made is gluten-free, hence the texture is different. I used a combination of coconut and rice flour here (with the option of using gluten-free oatmeal flour, too). Nonetheless. I also add in the recipe below a version for the regular bars using all-purpose flour. You can certainly make this paleo too by replacing the butter with coconut oil but I haven't tried that yet but perhaps next time I will. In the meantime, enjoy these delightful "food for the gods" this holiday season!
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Date and Hazelnut (or Walnut) Bars (a.k.a. Food for the gods)By: Manila Spoon
December 22, 2015
Known locally as "food for the gods" this is a holiday-perfect bar that's rich, buttery, nutty and totally delicious! Use walnut, pecan, hazelnut or even cashews for the nuts. Regular and gluten-free option available.
- 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose Flour (1 cup Coconut flour and 1/2 cup rice or oatmeal flour for gluten-free option) plus extra 2 tablespoons flour, separated
- 1 teaspoon Baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup unsalted Butter, softened
- 3/4 cup white Sugar
- 3/4 cup brown Sugar (or use 1 1/2 cups brown sugar in total if a darker bar is desired)
- 3 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 cup chopped Hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts or cashew nuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
- Grease or line with parchment a 9 x 13 baking pan.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl. coat the chopped dates with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. This is to prevent the dates from sinking to the bottom of the pan.
- Cream the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after every addition. Add the vanilla extract, if using. Adjust the mixer to low then slow add the flour mixture.
- Fold in the dates and nuts until everything is well-combined.
- Spread the batter onto the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a tester comes out almost clean and the top is nicely browned.
- Cool completely before slicing into bars. These may be wrapped individually with colored cellophane wrapper like we do in the Philippines or simply place each bar in a muffin liner. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes