My husband LOVES dates. I mean, not just in a “oh there are some dates I think I’ll eat them” kind of way, but an “OMG dates!!! Dates!!! Must enjoy and eat them now!!” kind of way. I think he loves dates about as much as I love strawberries. They are absolutely his favorite fruit in the world, and we always keep some dates around the house. It is a rare event when they last long enough that I can actually make anything with them, but the opportunity presented itself and I seized the chance to make a delicious Persian dessert out of wonderful dates. It took a little convincing (“Yes honey, I promise the dates will taste even better once I transform them into this dessert!”) – ok, it didn’t really take convincing. But I must commend him on his part for leaving the dates alone long enough for me to have enough to make this dessert.
I thought this dessert would be uniquely suited to being adapted for a gluten free diet, because unlike other desserts, there is no baking involved. I have yet to have enough of a handle on the starch chemistry of gluten free flours to feel confident in really experimenting with baking. But cooking? No problem! This is the only dessert I have seen where you actually pan fry the batter mixture rather than baking it – a very different technique than I am used to, but it worked really well, and the gluten free issue seemed to be not a problem.
One note about the original recipe – I was very confused because the recipe stated 1/2 cup (1/2 stick) of butter. A conventional size for a stick of butter (at least here in New England) is 1/2 cup. Therefore, 1/2 cup could not also be 1/2 stick. I asked my lovely friends on Twitter for their best interpretations, and most responses were to go with the volume measurement, which I ended up doing. I think this was the right choice, as the consistency of the “batter” was like a paste, like the recipe said it should be. I think only using 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) would not have been enough.
Just one warning, this dessert is extremely rich, so use small portions only. It’s great as a small little indulgent treat that is so satisfyingly sweet, any sweet tooth will be instantly fixed by this recipe!
Adapted from Boston.com/Tabrizi Bakery
2 dozen dates, pitted
handful of walnut pieces
2 tbs. cinnamon
2 tbs. cardamom
1/4 c. white rice flour
3/4 c. quinoa flour
1/2 c. tapioca flour
2 tbs. xanthan gum
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c. canola oil
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. shelled pistachio nuts
more honey for drizzling
1. Cut a slit down the side of each date, and stuff with walnut pieces – close dates back up again and seal shut.
2. Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl. Heat pan on medium heat.
3. Melt butter in pan, then whisk in dry ingredient mixture. Once all incorporated, keep whisking constantly, and add in oil and honey. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until mixture has turned a golden color and is a smooth consistency.
4. Spread a thin layer of the mixture (about 1/4 of the total) onto the bottom of a small flat dish. Lay each stuffed date onto the mixture, and press the date down a little bit into the “batter”. Eat leftover dates that did not fit in the pan or give them to your husband who is already drooling by watching you make this dessert. Then spread the remaining “batter” over the rest of the dates so they are covered completely. Drizzle honey all over the top. Pulse pistachio nuts in a nut grinder or food processor until chopped, and sprinkle all over the top. Gently press them in with your hands until so that they stick.
5. Let cool to room temperature (about an hr), and then let chill in the fridge for another hr. This may not be completely necessary, but I really liked eating this as a cold dessert.