I chose two recipes because I love all varieties of dates, the edible sweet dried fruit. As a young girl, I would enjoy eating the dried fruit and would eat a substantial amount of them while completing my homework assignments. Maybe it gave me more energy and focus. Whatever it did, I enjoyed them and they must have been beneficial, as I was an exemplary student.
The first recipe is a fruitcake recipe shared by a great-aunt who enjoyed baking sweets among many other delicious recipes. When I was a young girl, my family would go over to their house almost every Sunday for family visits. I enjoyed her fruitcake because it was mainly dates and nuts and not all the excess fruit, as in the normal recipes. As a fourth-grader, I asked for her recipe, and it was the second dessert I ever prepared. The recipe below is the same fruitcake recipe that I wrote down in fourth grade.
The traditional fruitcake is not as common as when I was young. So I took this time to share the recipe in hopes of salvaging fruitcake from its typical bad reputation. The second recipe is a traditional Lebanese date cookie that has been prepared for generations.
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 ounces cognac (Pierre Ferrand
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound dates (whole, pitted)
1 pound maraschino cherries,
whole (Luxardo are the best)
1 pound walnuts or pecans (whole)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Beat eggs, add sugar, vanilla and cognac, then mix in sifted flour and baking powder. Fold the dates, cherries and walnuts into the batter, adding a little at a time. Pour into well-greased Bundt pan. Bake at 250 degrees 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
- DATE COOKIES
3 cups farina (ground)
1 teaspoon ground mahlab (aromatic spice made from seeds of specific cherry. Flavor profile is almond and cherry. Found in specialty food stores).
1 pound unsalted butter, melted
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 package active dry yeast/1 cup lukewarm water to dilute
3-4 pounds pounds pitted dates, or purchase prepackaged ground dates
Pour farina into large bowl and mix in lukewarm melted butter. Allow butter to saturate into farina for about 15 minutes. Sift flour and sugar into farina mixture.
Melt dry yeast with lukewarm water and mix by hand or mixer. Add lukewarm water as needed to form dough mixture. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/2 inch or thicker layer of farina mixture on greased 12×16-inch pan; add a layer of dates. Repeat layer of farina mixture. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and pour cooled syrup immediately over surface. Allow syrup to saturate until the next day before cutting pastry.
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
Bring water and sugar to boil and add lemon juice. Lower heat and stir in orange blossom water. Allow to cool.