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Food-Friday Series: Sweet Pillow; Date Pillow

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Summary: Date pillow is sweet desert good for breaking fast during Ramadan

Dates are very popular fruit in the Middle Eastern diet. Traditionally, dates are complimentary sweet offered, along with tea, in tea houses around the cities in Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, or other places in the Middle East.  Dates are making a comeback in the culinary scene from cookies, tarts, smoothies to salads and even cooked dishes, to the new trendsetter in the food industry. Dates are famously popular due to their natural sweetness, in which eliminates the sue of sugar.

As the old saying of “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” goes, the same can be said about dates as well. They are packed with several vitamins, minerals and fibers. They have great benefits for digestive system so much as during the month of Ramadan, Muslims break their fast by consuming date with warm water or light tea. When the body absorbs the nutrients of the fruit, it wards off the feelings of hunger and reducing overeating.

Here, I decided to teach you how to make the delicious fruit into a tasty desert.

 

Prep time: 15 min. & 30 min. rest    

Baking time: 25 min.                 

Ready in: 1 hr                                           

Level: easy                           

 

Date Pillows

Date Pillow 1

1 large egg

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

½ teaspoon brewed Saffron

½ teaspoon Vanilla extract

3 tablespoons milk

Filling:

1 cup pitted dates

1 ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon grounded cardamom

1/3 cup crushed walnuts or shredded coconut

Glaze & Garnish:

2 tablespoons of honey

Almond, hazlenuts, sesame seeds, etc.

 

Directions:

1- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Then add egg, milk, saffron and vanilla. Beat until mixed well.

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3- Add flour to butter mixture. Gently mix the flour in and knead the dough until there is no flour lump. The dough will be very soft and light. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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4- While the dough is resting, prepare the filling; place the pitted dates with enough water (about 5-8 tablespoons) in a skillet over medium heat until they become soft and smashed. The intention is to reach a consistency that is spreadable but not too runny. Fold in ground cardamom, cocoa powder and chopped walnuts. Remove from heat and allow it to cool off before spreading on the dough.

Note: There are Pitted Date Paste packages available in ethnic stores as well as online. Whether using whole pitted dates or date paste, the taste will be the same. There is an advantage to working with pitted date paste; it has been already mashed so by adding few tablespoons of water, you will reach the desired texture and it spreads evenly on the dough. However, if you are using whole dates, it is better to run the homemade paste through a small mixer to gain a smoother paste.

Date Pillows 3

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4- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

5- With a roller pin, flatten the dough on a pastry mat to desired thickness. You can either make individual date bars from the beginning or spread the date filling on the dough and cut them into desired pieces after baking. As shown in the following pictures, the dough is very easy to work with. In several occasions, I made solid date log and cut it into smaller pieces after baking. Also featured here, there are round date pillows using a round cookie cutter. And I experimented with date roulette which was cut before baking. These choices make for great presentation.

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6- For glaze, you can use the common egg wash. Here, I warmed 2 tablespoons of honey in a microwave for 30 seconds and brushed it over the bars. Then top with desired nuts or seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

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They are great tea-time snacks that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family. The natural sweetness of dates makes them a great choice of sweets for kids and the athletes in the house. Noosh-e jān!

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