Date and Walnut Bars (food for the gods)

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 options for this super yummy Date and Walnut Bars are available.

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 buttery date and walnut bar. There is a debate as to how it got its name.

Date and Walnut Bars

Some have said it was called “food for the gods” not because of anything that connotes some 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 the 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.

The version below looks different because it 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). 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. 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!

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. | manilaspoon.com

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FOR FULL RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS and to PRINT, SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW.

Date and Hazelnut (or Walnut) Bars (a.k.a. Food for the gods)

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 options are available.

WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS FOR FOOD FOR THE GODS (DATE & WALNUT BARS)?

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose Flour (1 cup Coconut flour and 1/2 cup rice or oatmeal flour for gluten-free option)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey or corn syrup  (or 2 tbsp each honey and molasses)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped Hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts or cashew nuts or a combo of these.

HOW DO YOU MAKE FOOD FOR THE GODS (DATE & WALNUT BARS)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (180 C).
  2. Grease or line with parchment a 9 x 13 baking pan.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, coat the chopped dates with 2 tablespoons of the mixed flour to prevent clumping.
  4. Cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after every addition. Add the honey or corn syrup and vanilla extract. Adjust the mixer to low then slowly add the flour mixture.
  5. Fold in the dates and nuts until everything is well-combined.
  6. Spread the batter onto the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out almost clean and the top is nicely browned.
  7. 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!

Yield: 16-20 slices
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

4.2 from 5 votes
Print

Date and Walnut Bars (Food for the Gods)

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 options for this super yummy Date and Walnut Bars are available.
Course Desserts
Keyword easy recipe for food for the gods, how to make date and walnut bars, how to make food for the gods
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 20 bars
Calories 228 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose Flour, (use 1 cup Coconut flour and 1/2 cup rice or oatmeal flour for gluten-free option)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar, (use muscovado sugar for a more authentic taste with a hint of molasses)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Honey or Corn syrup (or use 2 tbsp each honey and molasses)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped Walnuts, (substitute pecans, hazelnuts, cashew nuts or a combo of these)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (180 C).
  2. Grease or line with parchment a 9 x 13 baking pan.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, coat the chopped dates with 2 tablespoons of the mixed flour to prevent clumping.
  4. Cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after every addition. Add the honey or corn syrup and vanilla extract. Adjust the mixer to low then slowly add the flour mixture.
  5. Fold in the dates and nuts until everything is well-combined.
  6. Spread the batter onto the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out almost clean and the top is nicely browned.
  7. 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!

Recipe Notes

TIPS & TRICKS

Make sure you cool this completely before slicing so it doesn’t crumble because of the butter content. Best if you chill it first before cutting.

 

Nutrition Facts
Date and Walnut Bars (Food for the Gods)
Amount Per Serving (20 g)
Calories 228 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Trans Fat 0.4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 49mg16%
Sodium 94mg4%
Potassium 110mg3%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 321IU6%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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5 Comments

  1. December 23, 2015 / 4:38 am

    These look like great food for the Gods to me! Pinned these to try dairy-free, they sound delicious!

  2. December 23, 2015 / 5:19 am

    These sound so good and look like they have a terrific texture! I love hazelnuts in baking, they just have the best flavor!

  3. December 23, 2015 / 7:45 pm

    Love the name of these, AND the flavor combo! It's been forever since I've had dates. Looks like I'll need to fix that soon and make a batch of these bars!

  4. December 24, 2015 / 4:14 am

    These bars look so good! I love dates into my baked good 🙂

  5. December 24, 2015 / 4:51 am

    I have a whole bunch of dates in my house that need using. This looks like the perfect solution!

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