Flaky pastry dough, cinnamon, dates and toasted pecans make a rich dessert that tastes a lot like pecan pie.
If you’ve never rolled out dough before, Donia’s Cinnamon Date Bars are a good place to start.
are the fruit from date palm trees which may have originated in the land now known as Iraq or “Persia”.
Today dates grow in Florida and California too, but they’ve been a staple food for millennia in the Middle East.
Serve soft dates like medjools with wine and cheese or as the centerpiece of this luscious dessert filling with cinnamon and nuts.
Mix it up! Create your own dried fruit combinations:
- fresh or dried figs, dates and walnuts
- sauteed apples and honey, dates and almonds
- dried apricots, dried peaches and pistachios
Chef Donia’s Cinnamon Date Bars come from her bittersweet memoir
Maman’s Homesick Pie, a treasure trove of stories mixed with inspiring recipes like
- Braised Chicken with Persian Plums
- Salmon Gravlax with Meyer Lemon and Tarragon and
- Potato Waffles with Creme Fraiche
on the blog, this is my first Persian recipe.
Chop dates or dried fruit and simmer with brown sugar and water for about ten minutes.
If you use fresh fruit, avoid a soggy filling by cooking it down until it’s thick and syrupy.
GLUTEN FREE BAKERS:
Replace all-purpose flour with a mix like
Trader Joe’s gluten free all purpose flour,
made from rice flours, potato starch and tapioca.
Dana’s Tips and Tricks
- Prepare + refrigerate dough a few hours or THE DAY BEFORE you want to make bars.
- Roll out dough between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- Use plastic wrap/parchment to flip dough onto baking sheet.
Fall in love with a new date: Donia’s Cinnamon Date Bars!
Serve anytime you’re craving a delightful, exotic new treat.
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Serves: 48 squares
- 1¾ sticks unsalted butter, cubed ( 7 oz/198 gm)
- ½ cup sugar (99 gm)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 gm)
- 2½ cups all purpose or gluten free flour (355 gm)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups dates, pitted and finely chopped ( like Medjool)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup water (8 oz/240 ml)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup pecans or nuts, toasted and finely chopped (130 gm) (OPTIONAL)
- 1 egg, beaten ( for brushing dough)
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup powdered sugar (35 gm)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Assemble the dough: Cream butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until pale and smooth, 2 -3 minutes. In a small bowl, combine egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Slowly pour in egg mixture, mixing well. (Mixture will look like scrambled eggs, but that's ok.) Add in flour and salt, a third at a time, mixing just until dough comes together. Place two sheets of plastic wrap on counter and turn out the dough. Sprinkle with a little extra flour and gently roll dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill at least one hour or overnight.
- Cook the filling: In a tall saucepan combine dates, brown sugar and water. Cook over low heat about 10 minutes, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon and chopped nuts, if using. Let cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Roll out the dough: Line a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment and set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut in half. Rewrap half and chill. (I like to roll out dough between layers of plastic wrap to keep dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Do what's easiest for you.) Line your countertop with enough plastic wrap to roll out the dough. Sprinkle plastic with flour, set dough on top and cover with another sheet of plastic. Roll dough into a rectangle large enough to cover the bottom of your baking sheet, about 14 inches long x 10 inches wide. FLIP: Use the plastic wrap to flip the dough onto the baking sheet or ROLL/UNROLL: Roll dough up onto rolling pin and then unroll it onto baking sheet. Use your fingers to patch the dough if needed.
- Use a pastry brush to brush surface of dough with beaten egg. Spread date filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ¼ inch border on the edges for sealing.
- Roll out the second half of the dough. Place over top of dates and trim edges. Use a butter knife to gently press in and seal edges. Brush top with beaten egg. Use a fork to lightly poke the top layer of the dough all over to make vents. Cover loosely with plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cinnamon. Stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter. Brush mixture over chilled date bars before placing in the oven.
- Bake 20+ minutes until golden brown. (If bars are not brown enough, place under the broiler for another 1-2 minutes, making sure they do not burn.) Remove from oven and let cool. For pretty slices, wrap and freeze bars before cutting and serving.