Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Orange Date Squares with Orange Icing

So, you're standing in line for your morning coffee and the decision-making begins: what to have with it . . . Something sweet? Healthy? Low calorie? These orange date squares have you covered on all 3 fronts. With only 1/3 cup butter and less than one cup of sugar, they are a justifiable choice. Their sweetness and heartiness comes from the dates and oranges. The orange icing is simple.

Derived from an old recipe, I added the spices. Next time, I may add even more. And I may just soak those dates with a shot of cognac or whiskey thrown in. I suspect these would make great muffins--spread with cream cheese! This had a nice rise and the texture is somewhere between a scone and cake.

  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates cut in medium-sized pieces (about 8-9 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup soft butter (not margarine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Grated zest from two oranges
  • Optional:
  • 1/4 teaspoon (scant) ground cloves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour the boiling water over the dates and let stand for 20-30 minutes, mixing occasionally.   The water will eventually be absorbed making an unctuous, creamy mixture.

Cream the butter and then add the sugar a little at a time until nice and fluffy. Add eggs and orange rind and beat for 2 minutes. You will see a change in texture. Then add the juice and mix only until well blended. (When you add the juice, the mixture will curdle and most of the juice will settle to the bottom. It won't affect the taste or texture of the cake.)

A microplane makes easy work of zesting citrus. Remember
to zest first before squeezing the juice from the orange.

Add the sifted dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, to the batter. Then add the nuts and dates alternatively and mix only until well-blended. Pour into a greased and floured 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan. Bake 1 hour in a 350 F oven (mine was done in about 40-45 minutes). Let stand on a cake cooler 10 minutes then invert and allow to cool. Frost with Orange Icing.

Orange Icing
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Add enough sugar, a small amount at a time, to butter and juice to form a medium consistency. Beat until smooth.

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