I love me some Medjool dates. However, I’m a picky date eater. I only like the ones that are fat, super moist, and caramel-like in flavor (nothing but the best for me, I know). Two weeks ago, I bought a package of Medjool dates from Trader Joe’s, where I bought amazing dates in the past. This time, some were fine and some were dry and not too flavorful. I knew I wasn’t going to eat them, but didn’t want to be wasteful. Hello, baking project!
I looked online for a date-bar recipe that was easy, not too fattening, and for which I didn’t need to buy additional ingredients. I saw an old Cooking Light recipe for Maple-Date Bars, and it seemed to fit all my criteria. The only problem was that, like so many cookie/bar recipes, the instructions called for beating together sugar and butter. I don’t own a mixer, but I thought I’d give a try the old-fashioned way, with a wooden spoon and my own brute strength (haha).
It worked! I set the butter out overnight (that’s safe, right?) so it was easy to blend together with the sugar. I’d say it took maybe 30 seconds? Now that I know cookies and the like can be made without a mixer, I feel more confident to take on more baking experiments.
Like many others, I can easily overdo it on sweets, especially baked goods and especially homemade baked goods. I thought I’d share a few of my tips to keep from indulging on baked goods just because they are there (rather than indulging because I WANT to, which is perfectly acceptable.):
- I left the bars in the pan for as long as I could (see above). I made these on Saturday, and even though I SO wanted to cut them up then, I waited until Sunday to slice them because I knew I was taking them to work on Monday.
- When I did take one, I took one of the smaller pieces. Of course I picked some (ok, all) of the crumbs left in the pan as I put them on the plate, so by taking a smaller piece, it evens out to one normal-sized piece in the end (I think?)
- When I brought them to work, I first took them to a few coworkers to sample (I sometimes need to bribe them in times of need. Neither they nor I have shame when it comes to dessert-for-favors exchanges).
- Then, I promptly took the plate to another floor. I knew if they were in my footpath, I’d be tempted to take another one, and I really only wanted the one I had eaten the day before.
Do you have any additional tips for keeping portion control in check when it comes to your baked goods? Do you give them away, store in the freezer, or are you able to “just say no” to having more than one or two at a time?
And the taste? They were WONDERFUL. I love Cooking Light recipes. I cut the maple syrup to 1/4 cup, and I couldn’t taste it. Next time I’ll omit completely; the dates are certainly sweet enough! The bottom part was crumbly (in a good way) and buttery, but I felt good knowing exactly how much butter was used for the recipe. And the date filling…well as mentioned I’m a bit of a date fan so of course I loved it. If you’re looking for a potluck recipe or a great non-chocolate dessert, give these bad boys a try!