“D” stands for Dark, Delicious and a little bit Different – all suitable adjectives for this very tasty offering.
Time: Around 75 minutes
Level: Quite easy
Equipment: 9” x 12” tray bake tin (20 x 30cm) – needs to be fairly deep sided
Calories: approx. 315 per piece (of 24)
- 225g/8oz softened butter or baking spread or a mixture
- 125g/4.5oz Light brown sugar
- 400g/14oz plain flour
- 45g/ 1.5oz cocoa powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 – 2 tbsp milk if needed
- 450g/16oz dried dates, chopped *b,c
- 4 Tbsp clear honey
- 85ml/3fl oz – 100ml/3.5fl oz orange juice
- 400g/14oz chocolate (dark or milk or a mixture – it’s your choice) *d
- 125g/4.5oz walnuts, blitzed fairly finely
- 24 walnut pieces (halves?) for decoration
- Gold shimmer spray (Optional)
1. Oven on at 180C / Fan 160C / 350F / Gas 4. Grease and line the tin then dust lightly with flour.
2. Beat butter and/or baking spread until soft and creamy.
3. Add sugar and beat in.
4. Sift in plain flour, cocoa powder & salt. Beat until batter comes together.
5. Press into tin and prick with a fork. *e
6. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. (NB This will not fully bake this layer; it will be returned to the oven later.)
7. While the shortbread is in the oven, place all the filling ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer until dates are soft. (If necessary, whizz together to form a spreadable paste.)
8. Leave to cool for five minutes then spread evenly over the shortbread base.
9. Cover with foil and bake for 20 – 25 minutes
10. Towards the end of the baking time, melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Take off the heat and allow to cool a little.
11. Stir in the chopped walnuts. Mix well then pour over the date layer, tipping the tin back and forth to ensure an even coverage. Leave somewhere cool, maybe in the fridge to harden.
12. When the chocolate begins to harden, mark the top into the desired number of pieces, probably 20 – 24. Place a walnut half onto each piece. When the chocolate has fully hardened, use a heated sharp knife (or a metal dough scraper or a pizza wheel) to cut through fully and neatly, then remove from the tin.
*Tips and thoughts:
a.) The shortbread mixture above gives quite a thick layer, which I like. You could probably get away with at least 10% less of each ingredient.
b.) Medjool dates are, by far, the nicest dates, but also the most expensive.
c.) I use scissors to cut dates into small pieces.
d.) You may not need 400g of chocolate if you only want a thin layer, but why miss out on chocolate?
e.) I use a lightly floured plastic dough scraper to press the mixture down evenly.