Date Walnut Bars

a.k.a. Food for the Gods… at least in our part of the world…  why are they called Food for the Gods?  Well, it is said that these treats are so delicious that they are for (greek? roman?) gods.

These treats are available all year round, but they are most popular as Christmas giveaways.  They are usually sliced into small squares or rectangles and wrapped in foil paper or cellophane.  Trust me, a small portion goes a long way for these super-rich treats.

When I was younger (and single, and living with my mom), my mom would bake her fruitcakes, lasagna, and apple pies, while I would make food for the gods and brownies.  We even had a kitchen schedule fixed ahead of time so we would not quarrel over oven time!

I used her recipe to make these treats, but made a couple of adjustments – I used way less sugar that her recipe specified.  I remember these treats being ultra-rich and sweet and I wanted to reduce the sweetness if I could, without compromising its nature  – the dates are sweet enough on their own!!!  And, instead of walnuts, I used our local kasuy (cashews)!  This is a personal preference because in my book, cashews are way better than walnuts! 🙂

My first try was not so successful, but it was entirely my fault.  I halved the recipe but forgot to halve the flour!  The result was a utterly dry and stiff bar that was no good!  My second attempt was great, although I discovered that the treats had better texture after being left alone overnight!  They were good straight out of the oven, truth be told, but they were even better the day after!



Nancy Drew Blondies

While I love (real) cookbooks, there is something to be said about hundreds (or even thousands) of (e)cookbooks in a handy-dandy Kindle!  Which is where I have my copy of Hand Made Baking…

Considering I have loads of cookbooks, it is not surprising that I have not baked from each and every one of them.  (It would be surprising if I had…) But once in a while, I come across something I find interesting… very interesting…

i just have to make it… so…

Even if my age will show, I will admit that as a child, I went through the whole series of Nancy Drew (they were in that famous yellow-colored hard-bound books) and the blondies ARE pretty popular!

As usual, I made some minor adjustments – like I reduced the sugar ever so slightly, then I used 2 kinds of chocolate chips but skipped the white chips, using instead butterscotch chips. And since walnuts are way too expensive here, I used the local cashews… and for this batch, doubled the recipe.

170 grams butter
350 grams muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large cold eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 cup each bittersweet and dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup broken-up cashews

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line an 10×12-in baking pan with greaseproof paper, leave an overhang on all sides.

Melt the butter over low heat; remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt.  Mix until smooth.  Beat in the eggs.  Add the flour, chips and nuts all at once.  Stir until just combined.  Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake about 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan before cutting into serving pieces.

Ube Bars

My brother tells me that ube bars are common in various neighborhood panaderia (bread bakery).  I felt insulted.  Not my kind of ube bars, I said.  Mine are special!

I set to work to prove him wrong.

My bars have a lovely thick bottom crust… and the ube filling is full of ube flavor – not from a flavoring agent but from the real thing!  And there is a thin, crackly crust on top too.

He sent me a pm a day later – he ate his words.  He said – Definitely not panaderia fare!

Whoooo hooooo!

(The little girl is likewise enamored with it!)


Fruit and Seed Bars

When I saw the recipe for the Fruit and Nut Bars on the Joy of Baking website, I knew I had to make it for my sweetie – he absolutely loves dried fruit. But, he dislikes nuts!

So I simply substituted a seed mix for the nuts… 

My adaptation – 

1 1/2 cups mix of sunflower seeds and pine nuts
2 1/2 cups mixed dried fruits (raisins, apricots, prunes, dates and cranberries)
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 XL egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Toss and mix the seeds and dried fruit with the chocolate chips, flour, sugar,baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Beat the egg and vanilla together until light, fluffy and frothy.  Gently mix the seed-fruit mix and beaten egg until thoroughly mixed.  Pat into a buttered and lined 8-inch baking pan.  Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about 40 minutes.  Cool before cutting into bars.

Hubby’s verdict?  He loves it but requests next time to skip the chocolate chips!

Original recipe here

Peanut Butter Choco Chip Bars

It had been a while since I indulged in my favorite – peanut butter.  So I plucked a cookbook from the shelf and picked a recipe…

The cookbook…


The recipe…


My adaptation…

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 XL eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
3/4 to 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Beat butter, sugar and peanut butter until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Stir in the vanilla.

Combined flour, baking powder and salt; stir half into the batter.  Mix in the milk.  Stir in remaining half of flour.

Fold in half of the mini chocolate chips.

Spread into a parchment-lined 13×9-inch baking pan and smoothen top.  Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Cool before cutting into bars.


Food for the Gods, take 2

I couldn’t sleep last night.  Eventually I stopped trying.  I went to the kitchen instead.  I looked at the list of recipes I (said I) wanted to try… and picked one…

Then again, I could never just follow a recipe, I always have to “personalize” it.  But to give credit where it is due, the original recipe is from  How did I “personalize” it?

Well, for starters, I did not have muscovado sugar, so I used my vanilla sugar instead (reduced too) and added molasses (omitted the vanilla extract while I was at it).  I reduced the flour (but not really by choice because I discovered, too late, that I only had about 3/4 cup of flour left in the pantry!) and since I reduced the flour, I reduced the baking powder as well.

All is well that ends well.  So far, everyone says these bars are fantastic!  I did discover, however, that it is best after being stored in an airtight container for 24 hours!


This is the first food for the gods bars that I baked using the small electric oven!  And it is perfect for a small batch that just enough for our household.

Choco Chip Oat Scotchies, in a Pan

The little girl had a project for school – “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up”.  It’s nothing new.  A couple of years back, she had a similar project.  The difference?  Last time, she wanted to be a teacher, specifically teaching young kids how to bake and cook.  This time, she wanted to be a baker with her own pastry shop!

The project this time around is more elaborate; the rubrics specified not only props but materials that showed realism, as opposed to a slide show.  Good thing the little girl really knew how to bake, after all, she has been my assistant since she was 2-1/2 years old!  In fact, she had made pancakes by herself (doing all except fire up the gas range), chocolate cupcakes (with chocolate icing, who cares if the frosting was messy), and granola bars!  She even has her own cookbooks (age appropriate, of course!)

So, anyway, for this project, she prepared a short script (or should I say I prepared most of the script 😛) and brought our her tools (her Uncle M gave a baking set for kids that’s for actual use).  Her coup de grace?  The actual product!


In the interest of full disclosure, though, this is not a recipe that she did all by herself.  Project submission was in the middle of the week so she didn’t have time to everything herself, given her other school assignments.  But she helped and I have no doubt she could pull it off all on her own.

We got the recipe from this book –


But, as always, with slight changes.  We had originally planned to make cookies but at the end of the recipe there was a note on how to make them in a pan.  We thought it was better, especially for presentation.

Our adaption of the recipe:

1-1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup soft butter
1-1/2 cups raw sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups old fashioned and/or quick cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a 13×9-inch pan.

Combine the flour, cinnamon and salt together; set aside.

Beat butter with sugar until light and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in vanilla.

Stir in the flour mixture.  Fold in oats.  Reserve 1/3 cup each of the chips for topping and fold the rest into the dough.

Spoon into the prepared pan, smooth top with spatula.  Sprinkle the reserved chips all over.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until done.  Do not overbake or the bars will be hard.

Slice into bars or squares when fully cooled.  (We cut ours into bite-sized squares and wrapped them in colorful cellophane.)

The verdict?  “Sooo yummmy!” the little girl said.

Oh, and she got an A on her project!

😜 😜 😜 😜

Butterscotch Dreams

Not being a big fan of chocolate, my bar of choice has always been butterscotch – specifically the one that my Ilonggo relatives would bring when they came for a visit.  It was difficult to describe, but it was buttery, sugary, and something else.  Over the years it has morphed into many variants, including my all-time favorite cashew and mango!

I never figured out how to bake those Pinoy (or Ilonggo) Butterscotch but I have tried to make butterscotch bars on and off throughout the years.  I was never quite satisfied… and eventually gave up.

You see, I did not want a butterscotch-chip bar, I wanted butterscotch bars!  I wanted the flavor of the butterscotch to permeate every bit of the bar cookie… and I wanted a butterscotch bar stuffed with dark chocolate chips… or cashew nut bits… or maybe even bits of dried Philippine mango…

The answer came to me in a dream – literally!  A couple of nights ago i woke up from a dream where I’d been mixing batter for butterscotch bars… I woke up to darkness (it wasn’t even close to dawn!) and scurried into the kitchen before my memory of the dream faded!

Thank goodness I had all the ingredients on hand!  And so, my experiment began… I had no guide except for my dream… and as I added ingredients, I noted it in the little girl’s whiteboard!

The resulting bars were even better that I imagined!

The recipe will have to wait though… because friend S expressed her desire to keep the goodies to ourselves for a while.  Besides, I think it just made the Christmas Giveaway List this year!

(Thank you friend T for naming this treat!)



Boozy Food for the Gods

I grew up looking forward to eating Food for the Gods at Christmastime.  As far as I was concerned, it was tradition.  I hadn’t realized that it was only in my part of the world that it was called that.  Apparently, in most of the world, these bars are called… Date-Walnut Bars.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried many recipes.  Some were too sweet, others were too dry.  Still others were too soft.  I always go back to the family traditional recipe… which is a family secret.

In any case, I still had to try improving the original.  So, taking a leaf from friend T’s book, I added booze!  My favorite rum, that is!


Result??? Astounding success!

(pic shows the bars in a box [bottom], and wrapped bars in a treat bag [upper left].  the other treat bag contains wrapped Fruitcake Round Bites [upper right].)