Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Date Walnut Cream Cheese Sandwich

After doing a frantic shopping round for clothes in New York City, my childhood best friend and I would race to a Chock Full o'Nuts. Sighing with relief, we eased our weary, teenaged selves onto counter stools. Juggling shopping bags as stuffed as our bellies were not, I usually ordered a dreamy, cream cheese sandwich studded with luscious walnuts and the most moist of all delectable dates; while she often asked for a whole-wheat donut which was coloured a dark chocolate and adorned with a crunchy lattice texture due to sufficient deep-fryer time. These cooks sure knew their way around umami and the Mallard reaction.

I adored that sandwich! Though the bread most likely was steamed instead of baked, I decided to go half way by putting the hot-from-the-oven loaf in a heat-resistant ziploc bag so a little baking, a little steaming...

makes a loaf approx 10 cm/4 inches by 26 cm/10 inches
  • Dates, pitted, 355 ml/12 fluid oz
  • Sugar, white, 130 gms/4 fluid oz
  • Maple syrup, 1.5 tsp
  • Egg, large, lightly beaten, 1
  • Lard, 3 T, melted
  • vanilla extract, 1 tsp
  • Flour, white, all-purpose, 270 gms/16 fluid oz
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • Baking soda, 1/2 tsp
  • Baking powder, 1.5 tsp
  • Walnuts, coarsely chopped, 50 gms/4 fluid oz
  • Spread: 90 gms/3 fluid oz cream cheese & 25 gms/2 fluid oz finely chopped walnuts

Slice the dates into thin strips and then finely chop. Put in a large mixing bowl and pour boiling water to barely cover. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 177 degrees C/350 degrees F. Add the egg, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and lard to the dates.

Beat lightly.

Mix the the flour, baking powder/soda, and salt in a smaller bowl. Blend the dry ingredients via several batches into the wet. Stir in the walnuts.

Spoon the batter into a well buttered, floured loaf pan. Level out the surface with the back of a wet, metal tablespoon.

Bake for about fifty minutes. Since moist is the name of the game, when testing by pressing the top of the loaf, it's OK if it doesn't spring back completely. Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese and walnuts together.

The loaf could be cooled on a wire rack if a crustier one is desired, or it can be popped into a ziploc bag to get a moister bread. The longer you wait, the easier slicing will be.

Spread the nutty cheese on a slice and top with another.

Not quite like the original, especially the texture, but gooey with dates and packed with the wallop of walnut, it is its own brand of goodness.

Dirac the kitten continues to do well. Ever since his first day with us, about six months ago, he often throws his front paws over his head in a playful effort of dislodging our hands when we try to pet his head.

À la prochaine!

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