“ I will love you today, tomorrow and always,” were the sweet words uttered during the wedding blessing the minister officiated. We were on the mountain top of a serene lake side estate in upstate New York. It was a chilly day in September. The azure blue sky was clear and a perfect backdrop to the scenic view of the grassy knolls and lush trees below us. Guests had come from far and near to witness the wedding of my nephew, Tim to his lovely bride, Kristine.
It was hard to believe that the little guy who had been a ring bearer at our own wedding years ago was about to walk down the aisle again, this time as a tall, handsome groom to his beautiful bride. Where did the years go? It is moments like this past weekend that made us ponder over how swift time moves when you are not watching. Our family lives far from each other here in the States. I don’t have relatives in the same state. Everyone lives 50 miles away or more. I miss having family close by. So when the invitation to the wedding arrived in the mail, we replied ‘yes’ without hesitation. It was going to be a chance to see family – cousins, nephews, nieces. It would also be a good time to make new friends, meet the bride’s family, extend the love all around, multiply the blessings, as I always say.
As I packed for the wedding weekend, I was also busy baking. I knew a big batch of the easy to bake, all-time favorite ‘Food for the Gods’ would be appreciated. Food for the Gods is a Filipino favorite dessert bar. It is richly filled with dates, raisins, (nuts if there are no food allergies), dark molasses and lots and lots of good butter. Lucky for me, I had just received a large box of Kerrygold butter as a gift from the brand. During the ‘Big Summer Potluck’ last July, I convinced the Kerrygold folks that there is a long list of Filipino and Asian desserts and dishes that use butter. Even better, if the butter is like Kerrygold, made from dairy of grass-fed cows in Ireland, then the smooth creamy consistency is sure to give fantastic baking results.
When the entire baking pan went into the oven, the scrumptious scent of the butter was unbelievable. It radiated from within the oven as the Food for the Gods bars were baking. The sweet butter scent traveled all around the house, out to the patio, high in the sky, across to the neighbors.
The newlyweds sure did enjoy these moist bars. It was perfect for them to relish right after the wedding festivities. True enough, I got a sweet message from the newlyweds the day after the wedding weekend. They even sent photos of the tin that held the ‘Food for the gods’ date bars – a before and after. There was no need to explain to me. I knew these Filipino date bars are always a hit every time I bake them for anyone. They travel well and they store for a long time. Trust me, if you bake these and give them as gifts, everyone and anyone will truly “love them today, tomorrow and always.”
The secret to baking these all-time favorite Filipino dessert bars called ‘Food for the Gods’ is to use good butter. I used Kerrygold Butter and the dessert bars were rich, moist and decadent. Each bar was packed with dates, raisins, nuts, and butter, even more than the amount of flour. It was easy to bake and even easier to love. Bake these for gifts, for the family or just to indulge. These date bars stored well and were easy to travel with. This is an AsianInAmericamag recipe formulated by my sister, Isabel Besa Morales, M.S.R.D. This recipe makes 12 to 14 pieces.
- all purpose flour - 1 and 1/2 cups
- butter, unsalted - 1 cup, softened at room temperature (I used Kerrygold Butter)
- dark brown sugar - 3/4 cup
- granulated white sugar - 3/4 cup
- eggs - 3 whole large (I used organic, cage-free)
- pure vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon (I used organic)
- baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
- baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- dark molasses - 1/4 cup
- honey - 2 Tablespoons (I used artisan brands or organic)
- walnuts - 1 cup, unsalted, chopped (optional, omit if there are nut allergies)
- raisins - 1 cup
- dates - 1 cup pitted, chopped in small bits almost size of raisins
- colored cellophane pieces or muffin paper cups - 12 to 14 pieces, (cellophane pieces must measure 4 x 4 inches, larger than date bars), to wrap
- Cream butter and both sugars using an electric mixer at medium speed.
- Add eggs one at a time. Add molasses, honey and vanilla.
- Add flour and other dry ingredients. Blend well. Add by hand the walnuts (omit if there are nut allergies), raisins, dates. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Pour batter into a greased baking pan (9 x 11 inches) that’s lined with parchment paper. Bake at preheated oven 350 F degrees for 35 minutes . Test for doneness by sticking a knife in the center of pan. If knife comes clean, then bars are cooked.
- When done, cool on counter for a few minutes. Then slice in 2-inch bars.
- To wrap: in the Philippines, these are wrapped individually in brightly colored cellophane. Or you can put them in colored muffin paper cups and store them in cookie tins to give as presents.
- To store: these Food for the Gods date bars will keep with no refrigeration for up to 3 days. To store in the freezer - once cooled from baking, wrap in plastic, a layer of foil and keep in plastic resealable bags or sealed plastic containers then freeze. These keep in the freezer for up to a month.
- To travel : these bars travel well, do not crumble and stay in its original form if you pack them well and keep in a cool part of the vehicle. I have also mailed these across the country during the holidays and have brought them to cookie swaps, bake sales and food events. See my previous blog post of how I baked, packed and brought these Food for the Gods to a Food Bloggers Cookie Swap.
COOK’S COMMENTS: You can substitute other types of unsalted, chopped nuts if desired. If dates are not available, substitute with more raisins.
Disclosure: I was not paid to use or mention Kerrygold Butter. The butter was a gift to me and I was the one who convinced the brand that Filipino and Asian desserts and dishes use butter. I highly recommend using Kerrygold or pure butter for best results in this recipe.
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