“Ah, oui oui! Bienvenue, mon ami! Ça va?”
For me, Sundays are for baking, and cooking, and doing things the old-fashioned way. Usually, I’d be in over-sized jumpers, next to a heater or fireplace, with a good cup of coffee and some French-music playing in the background – I don’t know why it’s French, but there’s something about buying fresh vegetables, and bread, and preparing the week’s-worth of food that makes me think of really old-school French cobbled streets. Whether it’s making a traditional soupe à l’oignon or something that just takes time, and attention, and amor to make… I just really enjoy the change of the pace.
But anyway, on to the recipe…
Firstly, thank the heavens for dates!
I may not be the popular opinion here, but if I had a kryptonite it would be dates. It’s the sweetness, the texture, the robustness of flavour, the versatility… I fall in love with them every-time I eat them.
I can picture myself sitting on my balcony, somewhere remote, over-looking the Tuscan or Parisian countryside in the middle of Spring, wearing a short-sleeve white shirt and jeans, with nothing but a bowl of dates in front me to compliment the quiet, the scenery, the pure joy of where I am, and what I’m doing. And in baking, they make an excellent source of fiber, a delicate hint of sweetness, and a gentle kiss of paradise.
Cashews are normally quite expensive, so I don’t expect you to include these. But even if you substitute something else in their place, I really recommend the nuttiness that these guys can bring to the table. Once you’ve baked everything together, they bleed out this phenomenal “grit” to the otherwise very flat – albeit very tasty! – combination of flavours. Toast them, crush, throw them in whole… whatever you want, just don’t leave them out!
And, as you can see, my food processor broke so I had to go back to the towel and rolling pin method – which worked so well that it even made for a cute picture. So that’s a win, I guess.
Find yourself a chocolate that is dark enough to not contain milk – and if that doesn’t phase you, find any chocolate that makes your inside swell with warmth, and comfort, and the joeie de vivre!
If you do find dark chocolate, remember that it won’t melt as well as normal milk chocolate. You’re only baking it, not melting it over a double-boiler, so it won’t liquify. However, depending on how finely you flake it, it can still be as melt-in-your-mouth as any other chocolate out there… and who doesn’t love the texture of creamy, softened chocolate? Mmm, yes please…
And once it’s baked, it comes out looking like this. I dare you to make it last for longer than a few days. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be on the porch or at a corner café, soaking up the French sun with a cup of my afternoon coffee and one of these little delights. Please let me know if you make them and how they go? I would love to hear how you spent your Sunday.
Carrés aux dattes et avoine
2 cups oats
1 (generous) cup dates, soaked in 1/2 cup water
1 cup cashew nuts, plain, and crushed or whole or toasted (but I like them crushed)
and as much flaked dark chocolate as you like!
- Blend it all together (except the chocolate!) into as coarse or fine a mixture as you want it. If too dry to roll into balls (if you were going to do that), add water by the tablespoon until it is sticky enough to hold together.
- Press it into a baking dish and sprinkle with your flaked chocolate. Watch as the doors to paradise creak open…
- Stick it into a preheated oven at 150 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, but check in-between because however thick your squares are will change that time. Essentially, you want the oats underneath the chocolate to brown slightly, and then it should all be done. Serve warm, if you can! Bon appetit!