Food & Drink

Holiday Baking: Anna Hess's Date & Nut Bars

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These date & nut bars are chewy delights. Credits: Susan R. Bonnell
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Bake until lightly brown - 25 to 30 minutes maximum - or the bars will be dry and tough. Credits: Susan R. Bonnell
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PISCATAWAY, NJ – This toothy, tasty cookie comes to us from the turn of the 20th century.  Anna Hess was born in 1882 of German immigrant parents.  She was an excellent cook who attacked the kitchen in a no-frills, meat and potatoes sort of way.  Even her cookies commanded attention:  dried fruit, nuts, solid ingredients that reflected her strength – and perhaps what she could manage to buy during the difficult days of the Depression.  Short on ingredients, but not short on flavor, this is one of Anna’s legacy recipes:

Dried Fruit Bars

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

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¼ teaspoon double-acting baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup dried dates, sliced (substitutions: apricots, figs, prunes)

Confectioners sugar for dusting

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix in other ingredients in order given. Butter a shallow pan (13x9 inches), then line it with waxed paper. Spread batter in it.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 25-30 minutes (do not overbake, bars should be light brown). Cool slightly, cut into bars 1 x 3 inches. Turn out on rack and peel off paper. When firm, roll warm bars in confectioner’s sugar.  Yield: 40 bars. 

TAPinto will feature holiday baking stories and recipes throughout the month of December. Check back often for timeless classics and fresh ideas.  Happy Baking!

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