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Delia's Date-Nut Cake

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92Y veteran Arthur Schwartz— author, chef and the original Food Maven— serves as an esteemed judge for the Mega Bites Recipe Challenge and offers his delicious take on the perfect afternoon treat.

“This extremely easy dessert is really more like a candy of nuts and dried fruit than a true cake. It is served in small squares, the perfect accompaniment to afternoon coffee or tea.”
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
  • 12 oz dried dates, pitted and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (2 cups), or 2 cups mixed diced dates and similarly diced dried figs, or 2 cups dates and chopped pitted prunes
  • 2 1⁄2 cups (12 oz) walnuts, crushed with your hand into large pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit, with much excess, a 7- by 11-inch baking pan, sometimes called a “brownie pan.” Don’t attempt to fit it in yet. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large mixing bowl, with a table fork, beat the eggs with the vanilla and sugar until well mixed. Stir in the dates and walnuts until wellblended. Sprinkle the flour over the fruit and nut mixture and blend in very well.

Place the parchment paper over the pan and pour the batter into the pan. The weight of the batter will hold down the paper. As you spread the batter to fill the pan, the paper will give way and fit to the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and the cake feels solid to the touch. Cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before un-molding. Pull off the parchment paper while the cake is still warm. Finish cooling the cake with the sticky bottom up. Serve that way, too. Cut into small pieces, approximately 1 1⁄2-inch squares.

You can serve this warm with whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla or dolce de leche ice cream, but it is much better at room temperature. It seems to improve with a few days of age, but it is so delicious it may not last that long. Store at room temperature, in a tin or wrapped in aluminum foil, not plastic.