DATES AND APPLES sounded like a good, if unusual, combination, and we were not disappointed with these Apple Date Pecan Bars. While they are more cake-like than bars, they are chewy and naturally sweet, and the flavors and textures blend well together.
I enjoy dates whenever I eat them, in breads and other baked goods, or stuffed with peanut butter at the holidays. Yet I rarely buy them or cook with them for most of the year. That could change after this.
Like apples, in addition to their great flavor dates are chalk full of healthful antioxidants and dietary fiber. Dates are also a good source for iron, potassium, and other minerals.
I used Jonagold apples, one of my favorite apples for fresh eating with their distinctive light-crisp texture. This was one of the rare times I saved some of these late-season beauties for baking, and they were delicious. Their red and gold skin added interesting color, too.
The apples cook through in these bars, but they are still firmer than the soft dates. The savory pecans offer a counterpoint in both texture and flavor.
I brought some Apple Date Pecan Bars to a meeting last night. “A-plus,” was one reaction, to which the others nodded in agreement between bites.
This recipe was adapted from one found at my recipes.
Apple Date Pecan Bars
1 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
¼ t salt
8 T butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 egg whites
¼ c applesauce
1 t vanilla extract
1 c chopped pitted dates
1 T flour
2 Jonagold or other New England apple, cored and chopped (3-4 c)
1 c chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9×13 baking pan.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Place butter and sugar in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Add egg and egg whites, beating well. Stir in applesauce and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture; stir just until combined to form a stiff batter.
Toss dates with 1 T flour. Add dates, apples, and nuts to batter, stirring just until combined.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.