Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chocolate Date Nut Loaf

I was perusing the Bible, looking for breakfast ideas, and the word Date caught my eye.  Then I read the recipe, and this is one crazy quick bread!  I suspect someone tried to do just chocolate and nuts, but decided it needed a special kick that also provided moisture and chewiness.  Instead of going for the obvious and picking raisins, the author tried dates.  This also allows you to reduce the amount of added sugar.  I decided to play along, but cut back on the walnuts after they took over the flavor profile of the carrot cake.  There's a similar recipe in Grandma's recipe box that uses cocoa powder instead of chips, but I decided to go for the more chocolatey version.

The cookbook warns you to make this the day ahead, and you really do need to.  Not only does it take a long time to bake, it takes twice as long to cool.  Plus, this kind of quick bread really needs half a day to rest before slicing so it doesn't fall apart.  Mine spent the night in the fridge.

I used my older copy of the Bible while I was making it, the one without calorie counts.  After the fact, I looked it up in the newer edition.  The whole loaf clocks in at over 4,000 calories.  With the ten slices I got out of it, that's still pretty intense.  I'm pretending that the half a cup of walnuts I omitted made more of a difference than they really did.  Or, I could just cut each slice in half again and make it a reasonable portion.  Nah.

3/4 C boiling water
1 C pitted dates, finely chopped
1 C semi-sweet chocolate morsels (6 oz)
1/4 C butter
1 egg
3/4 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 C flour
1 C chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1.  Chop the dates and place in a small bowl.  Pour the 3/4 C boiling water over them and let sit while you prep everything else.  Chop nuts if you bought whole and set aside.  Melt chocolate and butter either over a double boiler or in the microwave (30 second increments, stir) until smooth.  Beat together egg, milk, and vanilla.
2.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease a standard loaf pan.  Note I'm doing this after the ingredient prep.  Step 1 takes longer than it takes an oven to preheat.

3.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir in the walnuts. Being coated with flour first will keep them evenly distributed in the batter.

4.  Add the milk mixture and dates with their water.  Stir until just moist.  Add chocolate and stir until it is as distributed as you want.  I was going for a slightly swirled look, and it ended up a little more mixed than I expected.  You can also go for completely uniform, which is what the authors intended.

5.  Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake.  The recipe said 1 hour, 10 minutes.  I started checking after 45 and it was closer to an hour.  You don't want it to "brown", because by the time you can see browning on a chocolate cake, you've burnt it.  Stick a toothpick in the crack to get to the middle without leaving marks.  There will be some streaks of melted chocolate on the toothpick, but you shouldn't see or feel gooeyness.

6.  Cool cake in pan for at least 10 minutes.  It will be too fragile to remove before that.  Carefully turn out from pan and cool thoroughly, at least one more hour.

7.  To serve, refrigerate cooled cake a couple of hours, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.  Slice with a serrated bread knife through the wrap to reduce tearing of the cake.  Remove plastic strips and serve either room temperature or warmed.

Makes one loaf, 8 to 12 slices

Difficulty rating  :)

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