Chocolate Date Nut Bars

When I owned the Night Kitchen, one of my employees suggested making these. They were not only absolutely delicious, but were one of our best sellers and something that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Serves 6.

1 cup dates, finely chopped
½ cup boiling water
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

⅓ cup sugar
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 12-inch baking pan.

2. Place the dates, boiling water, and chocolate in a small bowl, stir to combine and set aside to cool.

3. Place the butter and sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and blend until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition, and the vanilla extract and blend until fully incorporated. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda, and mix until thoroughly combined.

4. When the date mixture is cool, add it to the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour it into the prepared pan.

5. To make the topping: Place the sugar, nuts, and chips in a small mixing bowl and stir until combined. Sprinkle evenly over the date mixture and transfer the pan to the oven.

6. Bake until the cake tester comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool and cut into 12 pieces. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately or cool, cover, and store at room temperature overnight.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)