Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's In Your Pantry?

Into the oven

Ready to eat!

Wonderfully chewy date bars!
While organizing my pantry today (finally after 3 weeks of moving into the apt), I found an unopened packet of chopped dates my hubby had bought and never touched! Not using it soon enough would mean it would end up in the garbage (ouch!). I’ve used dates in Indian sweet dishes with other dry fruits, but using up a whole packet meant I needed to make dates the main ingredient. I'm quite a fan of date bars and cookies and other chewy delicacies of the Arab land. I looked up some recipes I had to pass as I was missing some important ingredients. Buying something else to use up the dates would’ve completely defeated the purpose of finishing ingredients from the pantry. After looking up a few recipes I found this that seemed delicious and modifiable using what I had in the kitchen. Here's my modified version. 
Oatmeal Date Bars

1 Cup chopped dates – the dates I used had a little bit of sugar sprinkled
¾ Cup water
3 Tbsp honey
¾ Cup all purpose flour
2 Packets Quaker's maple brown-sugar oatmeal
2 Tbsp powdered jaggery – you can also use brown sugar
1 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 Tbsp oil
Milk as necessary – I used low fat milk

*I do not own a measuring cup - I used a ramekin which is about the same size*
  • Combine the dates, honey and water in a saucepan and cook until it has jam like consistency. Keep aside to cool. 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  • Beat ghee, oil and powdered jaggery with a mixer. I used half oil half ghee but you can choose to use all butter, all ghee, all oil (whatever you have/like).
  • Mix all purpose flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt and stir into the jaggery mixture. Add a few tablespoons of milk-just enough to bind it together into thick dough. It should not be too loose else the bars will be too mushy to cut. Using milk, I got away with only 2 tablespoons of oil/ghee together instead of using ½ cup of butter.
  • Grease a baking pan and pat down ½ of the batter forming approximately ¼ inch layer. Spread the date jam and another layer of the flour. You should be careful not to press down the top layer else the date jam will ooze out. You may want to press the remaining dough in between your palms and then put it on top and press down gently.
  • Sprinkle some more oatmeal to create a crunchy top. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove the baking pan from the oven, let it cool down and cut the bars. I cut them into 12 pieces.
Home run! Even after modifying the original recipe quite a bit, I got perfectly thick and crunchy from the outside and chewy on the inside bars. A great snack for afternoon hunger pangs or a grab-n-go breakfast.

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