It has been a busy week here at the Loyola House Kitchen, and I have finally found a few moments to post one of my favourite dessert recipes. Still on the to-do list is to photograph the pre-butterflies, which will have to wait for tomorrow as the evening light is quickly coming to a close. We had a very successful Ignatius Day dinner Tuesday night. Susan ordered local, well treated chicken and pork ribs, and worked her culinary genius to create one of the best meals I have ever eaten. To be a part of the magic is an honour indeed. A quick 24 hours later brought a new group of retreatants, and we are back into the busy swing of things!
At lunch we served Date Squares for dessert, and this is a recipe not to be missed. At the end of a retreat, the retreatants are asked to fill out an evaluation form about their stay. In the section that asks about the food, we often find comments similar to, “your food/desserts are too good. I think I gained 5 lbs!” I’m sure these date squares factor into those comments, so be warned: from experience I can tell you they are delicious, and it is hard to eat just one. Fortunately, with the dates, whole wheat flour, oats, and spices we can be sure we are getting some nutritional value along with the comfort. They also freeze really well, so they are pretty much the perfect dessert! (I got so excited writing about these date squares that EVERY sentence in this paragraph ended with an exclamation point. I’ve edited myself down to
two three, but trust me when I say these points are warranted!)
(For two 12 x 20 inch pans)
3 c white flour
2 c whole wheat flour
4 c oats
4 c brown sugar
4 t baking soda
2 t salt
4 c soft butter
2 t cinnamon
1 t each of ginger, nutmeg, cloves
Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter until crumbly. Press ½ of the mix firmly into the greased pans.
9 c chopped dates – look at them closely and remove any pits!
1 c brown sugar
2 c apple cider (or juice)
2 c coffee
1 t vanilla extract
Simmer until dates are soft and liquid is absorbed. Spread over bottom crumb layer. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over top. You want to achieve full coverage of dates and to make sure all the crumbs are anchored in the filling whilst maintaining as much fluffiness in the top layer as possible.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or longer until a nice golden brown colour. Chill (covered) overnight before cutting.