Food for the Gods is a blondie butterscotch bar filled with dates and walnuts. What a fitting name.
It’s like golden, mythological ambrosia in dessert bar form.
This Filipino dessert is popular during the holiday season, and it’s no surprise why.
Food for the Gods is buttery and caramel-like with chewy dates and crunchy walnuts. If that doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, what will?
But let me let you in on a secret. You don’t only have to eat Food for the Gods around the holidays. The recipe is easy enough to make any day!
What Is Food for the Gods?
Food for the Gods is a heavenly dessert with a chewy blondie base, bite-sized dates, and walnuts.
It’s like blondies and fruitcakes combined. (But like good fruitcake.)
The combination of brown sugar and butter makes the bars chewy with a rich butterscotch flavor. The dates and walnuts add playful textures.
This dessert is popular in the Philippines, especially during the Christmas season. (Which, in the country, starts in September).
The origins of its name remain unclear. But, many believe that it gets its name from the dates and walnuts.
Both were luxury ingredients in the Philippines back in the day. That’s why the bars were considered “food for the gods.”
- Flour- The base ingredient of every baked good. For this recipe, use all-purpose flour and measure it correctly. Use a kitchen scale for the most accurate measurement.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda- The leavening agents lift the batter.
- Salt- This dessert is mighty sweet. A pinch of salt will counterbalance that sweetness.
- Dates- Dried and pitted.
- Butter- For richness. Use unsalted butter. You can also use salted butter; skip the salt in the recipe.
- Sugar- Use both white and brown sugars here. Brown sugar will add moisture to the batter and make the bars chewy.
- Eggs- For richness and lift.
- Walnuts- For a nice crunch.
How to Make Food for the Gods
1. Prep. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your baking pan. No need to line it with parchment paper.
There’s plenty of butter in the recipe. So, don’t worry about the bars sticking to the pan.
2. Chop the dates and walnuts. Dates are sticky, so coat them in some of the flour in the recipe before you chop. This will keep them from sticking together.
Chop the fruit and nuts into bite-sized pieces.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt before combining them with the wet ingredients.
This will prevent a lumpy batter.
4. Combine the wet ingredients and sugar. In a large bowl, beat softened butter and white & brown sugars. Add the eggs, one by one, beating after each addition.
5. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix with a rubber spatula.
Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets mixed.
Do not overmix the batter. Or the bars will not be soft and chewy.
Stop mixing as soon as you no longer see streaks of flour. Stir in the dates and walnuts.
6. Bake. Bake the batter for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the heat to 300 and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more.
Let cool before slicing.
7. Serve and enjoy.
Slice the Food for the Gods into squares. Serve with coffee or tea, or top with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
- Try this date-chopping hack. Coat them with a bit of flour and chop roughly with a knife or food processor. The flour will keep the dates from sticking together.
- Use room-temperature ingredients. The butter and eggs, in particular. Room-temperature dairy ingredients incorporate better with other ingredients.
- Use dark brown sugar for chewier squares. The darker the sugar, the more molasses it contains, and molasses imparts chewiness. The bars will appear darker, though. You can also use muscovado sugar. It has a delicious caramel flavor profile.
- Don’t overbeat the ingredients. Be very careful in mixing once you add the flour to the mix. Stop as soon as you no longer see streaks of flour.
- Don’t chop the dates and nuts too small. You want large, bite-sized pieces in your bars.
- Under-bake the bars for extra chewiness. Just like brownies, Food for the Gods also benefits from some under-baking.
- Let them cool completely. They will crumble and fall apart if you slice them right after baking.
- Giving them out as holiday gifts? Wrap each bar in aluminum foil, followed by colored cellophane. Use an assortment of colors for a festive touch.
How to Store
Store Food for the Gods like you would brownies. Store them in an airtight container and leave them on the countertop for up to 3 days.
If you want to keep them around longer, refrigerate the bars for up to a week. Honestly, though, I don’t think they’ll last that long.
To Freeze or Make Ahead
You can bake Food for the Gods up to a week in advance.
Once baked and cooled, transfer them to freezer-safe bags and freeze them for up to a week. Thaw the bars in the fridge overnight before serving.
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