This is what I did:
- Simmered 375g pitted dates with 100ml orange juice and 100ml water for 10 minutes until soft. Left to cool.
- Roasted 75g of hazelnuts for 10 mins at 180C, then rubbed off their skins and roughly chopped.
- Rubbed 125g unsalted butter in 250g plain flour (150g wholemeal, 100g white), 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 tsp dried orange zest and 125g light muscovado sugar until mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Stirred in 100g roughly chopped milk chocolate (G&B 35%) and the hazelnuts.
- Pressed 2/3 of mixture into the bottom of a 9" sq silicone mould until firm.
- Spread over the date mixture.
- Stirred in a tbsp of water into the remaining crumble to make the mixture stick a little.
- Spooned this over the dates.
- Baked at 180C for 30 minutes.
- Left to cool and cut into 16 squares.
As it happened, we didn't make it to the beach. The roads were just too difficult to negotiate, so we had a stomp around Bodmin Moor instead.
It was a glorious day, sunny and without a breath of wind. We sat atop Sharp Tor and ate our sandwiches, with coats and hats stripped off. As we ate the date slices, we surveyed the wonderful snowy scenery that lay before us for miles around.
The slices were just what I was hoping for - filling, crumbly, rich and unctuous. The hazelnuts gave a lovely crunch and the chocolate pieces an unexpected and welcome addition. I had been a bit concerned that, because of their crumbly nature, they wouldn't hold together very well. Luckily, they were in fine fettle by the time we made it to our lunch spot and that was despite being bumped around in a rucksack for an hour or two. Thanks to Dan for this much appreciated take on the traditional date slice.