Friday, January 27, 2006

Sugar "Low" Friday: Date-Nut Slices

Do you suffer from post-dessert guilt syndrome (PDGS)? It is a condition affecting millions of people. Major symptoms include wrestling with one's conscience when the time for dessert comes around ("Death-by-Chocolate" or "Fruit Platter"..hmm??), forgoing dessert only to stuff yourself with cookies in the middle of the night, and most commonly, making New Year resolutions to eat less sugary foods.
Well, people, the lovely Sam of "Becks and Posh" has a cure for you: healthier desserts that one can feel better about eating. So this month we are keeping away our jars of refined sugar and coming up with some cool an event that Sam is calling Sugar "Low" Friday.
The problem with refined sugar is that it has "empty calories", which means that it contains only calories and no other nutrition in the form of vitamins or minerals etc. In contrast, other sources of sugar like fruits and unrefined sugars retain a host of micronutrients that contribute positively to the diet. A combination of smaller portions and healthier desserts would mean that no one needs to deprive themselves of the occasional treat.
In that sense, I like the Indian concept of "mithai" or sweets, small treats that can be eaten in a couple of bites. It is a nice way to get a sugar fix without eating a huge bowlful of something sweet. I used dates as my sugar base for this recipe. The main reason is that ripe dates have a very high sugar content, being about 75% sugar. In addition, they are rich in fiber, potassium and folate. Dates also have a rich taste that is very satisfying!
I served these date-nut slices with slices of orange. The tang of the orange sets out the sweet dates and the slightly bitter walnuts. This was a great dessert to enjoy after a lazy Sunday lunch. The slices keep well in the freezer, to be eaten whenever the craving strikes!

Date-Nut Slices

Adapted from a Tarla Dalal recipe; makes about 20 slices

10 plump juicy dates (about a cup and a half)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1. Pit the dates and trim off the stems. Chop dates coarsely.
2. Toast the nuts separately (a couple of minutes in the microwave works for me, but a stove-top skillet or warm oven would work just as well). Chop the walnuts coarsely. Grind the almonds to a powder.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the dates, milk and cream. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium-low heat, stirring often, till the dates break down and the mixture cooks into a thick fudge-like consistency that leaves the sides of the saucepan.
4. Turn off the heat. Stir in walnuts, cardamom and a pinch of salt and combine well. Let the mixture cool almost to room temperature.
5. Place the date mixture on a plastic sheet and form it into a long roll. Roll the (ahem!) roll in almond powder to get it coated.
6. Place the roll in the freezer for an hour or more, then cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the slices if desired.

It is going to be a busy weekend ahead at One Hot Stove, stay tuned for IMBB: Noodles, Weekend Cookbook Challenge, and the "U" of Marathi each day starting tomorrow! I want to thank Sam for making us think out of the sugar jar!
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  1. Hi Nupur, this is a brilliant idea for using up the packet of dates I have in my cupboard! Thanks!

  2. Hi Nupur- actually I was planning to make the fig version from the same book but got too busy with other things. I like your idea of eating them with orange slices...

  3. Yum! I love dates just as they are (especially those great big medjool dates), or any way I can get them. These sound delicious - I don't think they'd leave me feeling the least bit deprived!

  4. Brilliant Nupur - especially your description about the nutritional values of sugar. Thanks for taking the time to produce such a thoughtful and delicious looking entry.


  5. Thank you for letting me try this absolutely perfect dessert. The texture: creamy, crunchy... heavenly. Sweetness of the dates, supplemented by the cream and cooled off by fragrant cardamom... ingenious dessert-making at its best.

    Still excited,

  6. Oh wow - looks great. And I love cardamom, so I'd love this.

  7. Hi--I wanted to tell you that I tried this recipe yesterday, and it was terrific! I'm a vegan, so I had to find a way around the dairy products, but it was still delicious. I wrote about it in my blog this afternoon, so you may have some vegans wandering over to check out your blog. :-)

    Thanks for a great idea!

  8. Hi Nupur,
    Oh, these date slices looks heavenly, great idea to pair them with orange slices. Yummmm.

  9. I love dates, and pairing them with cardamom and toasted sesame seeds--with oranges on the side-- is brilliant. Nicely composed pic, too :)

  10. Hi Pille, let me know if it works :)

    HI Mika, thats true...fig would be lovely in this recipe too!

    Cathy, dates are great to just eat out of hand right ??

    Sam, thanks so much for hosting...we started the new year with such a great event!

    hey L, so glad you stopped by and got a chance to try these :) love your description of them!!

    Hi Niki, cardamom is my favorite dessert spice too!

    Hi SusanV, I'm glad it worked with soymilk. and thanks for leaving a comment, because I found your blog that way!

    Hi Elise, thanks :)

    Hi Nina, thanks...I'm trying to take decent pics...and it works some times and not others!

  11. Hmmm ... love dates. I must bookmark this try it one of these days. Thanks for sharing! :)

  12. I'm only just getting around to reading all the Sugar Low Friday posts, and I'm so glad I found yours. I adore dates, esp. Medjool dates, and I love the fact that you can keep this sweet treat in the freezer. Great recipe!

  13. hI Nupur !

    I have just tried this reciepe and it has turned out to be great. Thanks so much !

  14. Hi Nupur,

    Great recipe! Does this preserve well at room temperature?


  15. Kiran- I've never stored it at room temperature so I just don't know.


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