Wednesday, September 28, 2011

date-nut candy.

the sun is shining through the kitchen window.
my mama opens the refrigerator.
she reaches for the peanut butter jar.

this is my first memory of dates.

 how does this fits together?

my mama halved dried dates and filled them with a wee bit of peanut butter.
the dates were best when sticky and mushy.
i always licked my fingers with pleasure afterwards.

the stickiness went further:
once in your mouth, not only the dates but also the peanut butter would stick to the roof of it.
something about the cloying sweetness that was constrained by the nutty butter and blended into an overall new taste.
this extraordinary combination is still one of my favorites and dates will always call this childhood snack to mind.

this candy i created has it roots from the "date-nut filling" from the "new cookbook" (published years and years ago, it's a hand-me-down from my mother, beaten up and bent, yet a well used favorite. the new additions of the "new cookbook" do not include this recipe anymore).

although omiting the peanuts, dates find a perfect pairing with nuts.
with dried dates you really need something to check the sugar.

this candy imports the true flavor of dates,
blending it with earthy nuts.
i'm sure you could add spices or lemon zest,
but i enjoy the plain, honest taste the best.

date-nut candy

300g dates
200ml water 
65g sugar
3 tbsp glucose syrup (light corn syrup)
1/4 tsp salt
50g walnuts, chopped


30g egg whites
85g granulated sugar
85g finely ground almonds
15ml amaretto liqueur
(optional: dash of vanilla extract)

you will need crushed amaretti to roll your candy in.
of course you could use store bought stuff. 
but there's nothing better than the smell of freshly toasted nuts, right?

to make the amaretti:
preheat to 170 degrees celcius. 
beat the egg whites until slightly stiff.
add sugar, beat until stiff.
add almonds and liqueur.
fill into piping bag and pipe onto a silicon mat in rounds.
bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned and hardened.

to make the candy:
chop dates into small pieces.
in a pan, add dates, water, sugar, glucose syrup and salt.
bring to a boil.
boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly and waiting until the dates mixture has lost a lot of it's moisture and has come together into a sticky mass.
remove from heat and add chopped nuts.
let cool slightly, then transfer into a food processor.
blend well.
let cool to room temperature and form into small truffle balls.
crush the amaretti and roll date candy until covered.
keep in refrigerator around two weeks.
they are best enjoyed at room temperature though, the flavors unfurl themselves better.