belinda jeffery's recipes
My recipes are easy. They’re for the food I like to eat. Simple, fresh, full of flavour and just a bit different. You certainly don't need any great cooking skills for them, you just need to like food and like eating – just like me. The rest is simple.
sticky date, pecan and honey fingers
These luscious bars are positively addictive and just the sort of thing that’s perfect to finish off a meal when you don’t want a ‘proper’ dessert, but just a little something sweet. I have to admit I like them best straight out of the fridge when they’re dense and chewy (then again I’m a chilled Mars Bar sort of a girl too!) but I realise not everyone shares my passion for them this way. Whichever way you eat them, they’re scrumptious, and if you like, for a special occasion you can dress them up with a zigzag of dark chocolate piped over the top.
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
1 cup (150g) plain flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup clear honey
20g melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly whisked
90g pitted dates, finely sliced
50g roasted pecans, finely sliced
1 heaped tablespoon very finely sliced glace ginger
A little melted dark chocolate, for piping, optional
Preheat your oven to 180C. Generously butter a 22-23cm square cake tin and set it aside.
For the base, put the butter and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and whiz them together until they’re light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and process just until the mixture forms medium-sized crumbs (keep a keen eye on it as you don’t want it to form a ball around the blade.) Tip this crumbly mixture into the prepared tin. Shake the tin to spread it out evenly then press it firmly into the base of the tin – I often roll a sturdy tumbler over it to compact it more evenly. Pop the tin in the fridge and chill the base for 10 minutes, then put it in the oven and bake it for 22-25 minutes or until it’s light brown.
While the base cooks, put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla and egg into a bowl, and whisk them together with a balloon whisk until they’re well combined.
When the base is ready, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the egg mixture briefly again as it will have settled a bit, then pour it over the base. Scatter the dates, pecans and ginger as evenly as you can over the top. Return the tin to the oven and bake the slice for about 25 minutes until the topping is set. Remove it to a wire rack and leave it to cool completely in the tin.
Once it’s cool, use a fine palette knife to carefully loosen the slice around the sides, then cover the tin and pop it in the fridge. Let it chill for 1 hour, then remove it from the fridge, and using a ruler as a guide by laying it across the tin, cut the slice in half. Use a wide palette knife or egg slice to carefully lever one half of the slice out of the tin onto a board. Cut it into fingers with a heavy chef’s knife, then repeat this with the other half. Layer the bars between sheets of baking paper in an airtight container, and store them in the fridge, where (if you manage to hide them well!), they will keep for at least 10 days. If you would like to dress the slice up with melted chocolate, spoon the chocolate into a paper piping cone or other fine piping bag, and zigzag it over the bars. Chill them again to help set the chocolate.
Makes 14-16 large bars or 32 small pieces.
© Copyright Belinda Jeffery 2012. This recipe and photograph are protected by copyright laws and written permission from the author must be obtained to re-use them in any form of media.