When a challenge was presented to me recently by my friend Tricia Keels of No Chefs Allowed to provide a recipe for their monthly “ingredient challenge” using dates, this recipe came to mind. The sisters who run No Chefs Allowed have all sorts of innovative things going on through their website. They host a weekly radio show on Heritage Radio where they cook together and talk with various foodie folks; they run Columbus Soup and Bread fundraiser each month to raise money for various food charities such as Mid-Ohio Food Bank (next one is Tuesday, May 6, 2014 and I will be a soup maker….see their website for details); they post humorous and serious foodie blogs periodically and they have this fun “ingredient challenge” each month in which they challenge themselves and their readers to focus on a new and typically pretty unique ingredient. I’ve followed their blog for about six months now and the ingredients for the “challenge” have ranged from kumquats to white pepper to quail with this month being dates! This is all in the spirit of challenging oneself to continue to learn and grow as a home cook. I think I’ve enjoyed their site so much because I feel as if their mission lines up so much with my own mission for The Common Plate….to celebrate and inspire home cooks and to share good food! So in a quest to not only share this Chocolate Chip Date Cake recipe with Tricia, I made the extra effort to actually get a piece of the cake to her even though she lives across town from me (luckily her husband works in Grandview so I dropped it to him and he took it home to her….or some of it at least). I wish I could send you each a piece of this delicious cake but for now, you’ll have to trust me and make it on your own.
[My Mom has made this cake for as long as I can remember. Years ago, I remember thinking “date cake? Gross!” But after a bit of convincing by my Mom and a realization that it was packed full of chocolate chips, I gave it a try (there is really nothing gross about dates to begin with but they were outside of the norm for my 1980s taste buds). I was sold on this cake after just one bite! It is perhaps the most moist cake you will ever taste. You will notice in the recipe that you have to soak the chopped dates in boiling water for awhile and what you get is a delicous almost brown sugary tasting syrup which then gets mixed into the cake and this, my friends, is what makes this cake so unbelievably moist and delicious (thank you, dates!). Enjoy!]
Chocolate Chip Date Cake (Serves 12)
1 cup chopped dates
1 3/4 tsp baking soda, divided
1/4 cup butter
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 + 3 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (appx 9 oz)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine chopped dates, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Cool thoroughly. In mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs, flour, salt and 3/4 tsp baking soda. Add to cooled date mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into 13×9 in pan. In separate small bowl, mix chocolate chips, nuts and 1/3 cup sugar. Sprinkle evenly on top of batter. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes making sure not to overcook.