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.

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

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.

 

Date and Walnut Bars

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.

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

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!

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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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. | manilaspoon.com

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups 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.

 

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 40-50 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

 

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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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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