My intention was to make brownies. I figured if I left some lovely morsels for the photography group, I’d be bound to get one decent photo of the slices for my blog. Came back from book club and the shutters on their cameras had not even blinked. The chocolate date crumble slices however had gone down a treat.
I changed my mind about the brownies when I remembered these slices. My first taste was at a friend’s house - Try these, you’ll love them, she said. And I did. She knew I would. I think I had two. It is good to know that I can restrain myself when I am out.
In many ways they are reminiscent of chocolate fudge brownies, but they are more complex with a damp, dark richness. The dates add soft-fibre lusciousness. The chocolate chips add texture, as does the coconut which doesn’t overpower, as it can do.
I love the creamy pale-golden colour of the middle layer as you pour it on to the baked base. It’s so glossy and glorious.
And that’s part of the delight of baking and cooking. It’s not just the end result that gives satisfaction. Yes, sometimes cooking can be a hassle. I read somewhere that on any given day at 4pm most women (and let’s face it, it is mainly women who cook dinner) don’t know what they are going to cook for dinner that night. I am normally one of those women.
I try to plan meals for the week. What happens is that I get up in the morning and don’t feel like having the planned dish of the day. That’s when I know that weekly menu planners will never work for me as I feel, taste and desire food, I don’t just eat it. It’s spontaneous - what am I in the mood for today? Living a little bit away from shops, I do have to have some idea of what I’m doing though or the 4pm problem becomes the 6pm nightmare.
So instead of agonizing over what’s for dinner? I prefer my kitchen moments to be something I want to do, choose to do. When I have the luxury of time to potter, I tend to have the inclination to head for the kitchen. I am happy and content there.
These slices are dense enough for me to halve the portion size…. yes, I do. Okay – I have the other half later in the day. I think I’m supposed to feel virtuous about that?
chocolate date crumble slice
Julie Le Clerc (A Treasury of New Zealand Baking)
Makes about 18 squares
150g pitted dates, chopped
100g caster sugar
150g standard flour
50g desiccated coconut
20g cocoa powder
120g dark brown sugar
200g cold butter, cubed
10g standard flour
½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-bake). Line a 17 x 27cm slice tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.
Combine the dates, water and half the caster sugar in a saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the dates have softened and the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Place the first measure of flour, coconut, cocoa and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to sift. Add the cubed butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Reserve 1 cupful of this mixture. Press the remaining mixture into the base of the prepared tin.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, leaving the temperature at 180°C.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg and remaining caster sugar until thick and pale. Fold in the flour, the date mixture and the chocolate chips. Pour this mixture over the baked crust and scatter the reserved crumb mixture on top.
Bake for a further 50 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Cool in the tin, then remove to a board and cut into squares.
The slice will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.