Food For The Gods

Filipinos are known for their overabundant holiday season celebrations. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the Philippines, so between Easter and Christmas, there is nothing to tide us over (except for birthdays). That’s why Christmas is such a big deal. The kitchens are busy for weeks ahead. People bake all kinds of edible gifts, like my favorite spiked fruit cakes that are given out to friends and family. We stock up on holiday staples such as Queso de Bola (cheddar cheese ball) and boxes of hamon (ham, no turkey). Some people (my mom’s mom) give notices to their favorite butcher to reserve meat for them to make ham (she makes a mean pineapple pork ham and chicken ham. Imagine that.).

One of the favorite “cakes” during the holidays is called Food For the Gods. I miss them dearly and until now, I haven’t had them since 2001. They’re basically date and walnut bars. [Don't wince, date-haters, I was one of you, too. You won't even notice you're eating dates when you have these.] These are so good, you’ll really have to leave some for yourself at home if you’re taking it to a party because they will disappear.

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FOOD FOR THE GODS (CHEWY VERSION)Download the PDF recipe for Food For The Gods
[Recipe Source: here, but it was originally by Junjun de Guzman and Adoree Uy as published on Manila Bulletin]

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the upper middle position.  Line a 9″ x 13″ rectangular pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Sift all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Transfer half this mixture in another bowl and dredge the chopped dates in there.
  3. Combine melted butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Mix until batter is uniform. Add honey and mix.
  4. About to fold the flour-coated dates and walnutsFold flour into the batter using a rubber spatula. Lastly, fold the dredged dates and walnuts.
  5. Pour the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Pour the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes . It should be done when you poke a toothpick through the middle and it comes out clean. The center would still be wet.
  6. Cool completely before slicing into bars.

NOTES:

I already made 4 batches of this recipe so I pretty much have it down to a science and to the exact flavor and consistency I want. Hope the following tips help you when you make them!

Baking pan: I used a standard size cookie sheet and the thickness of the bar is just perfect!

Dates: DO NOT use pre-chopped ones that come in boxes because they are coated in sugar and will make your bars too sweet. It is cumbersome to chop a cup of dates, but it will be worth it!

Baking Time: Mine was perfectly baked in 25 minutes.

Cutting: Resist the urge to eat it just minute out of the oven. Patience! Let it cool completely and cut into bars. A dough cutter works really well for this purpose.

Food For The Gods, wrapped and ready to go!Wrapping/Packaging:
Traditionally, the bars (about 2″x4″) are carefully wrapped in aluminum foil–yes, individually. Then it’s wrapped in cellophane, and placed in gift boxes or plastic containers. I couldn’t find the crunchy cellophane that I love here so I settled for gift wrapping plastic. It’s a little tougher to wrap and twist at the ends, but they look quite fancy when given away as gifts. And look (to the right)–so pretty!

FFTG in paperc upsServing Suggestions: You can also cut 2″x2″ squares and put them in paper cups if you’re serving them at a party. They’re sticky, chewy bars, so spare your guests the sticky fingers. They pair well with coffee. Some people find it too “rich”, so you can also serve them in smaller, more bite-size pieces.

ADULT Version: Before wrapping them in foil, you can also brush some brandy at the top and bottom. They are incredibly good as well.

Shelf Life: The question is–will it even last a day?! Hah. These are very shippable and will probably stay good at room temperature for 3 days. Beyond that, please wrap and place in the fridge.

 

43 Responses to “Food For The Gods”

  1. Mary Anne says:

    Love your new website. Thanks for sharing your holiday traditions. These cookies are great with a cup of coffee!

  2. joy says:

    Thanks, Mary Anne! I love sharing them and I’m slowly adding ‘local’ dishes into my repertoire to give you guys a taste of Manila. Hehe.

  3. April says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I have not tried it yet, but it seems to be the one I’m used to eating when I was younger. Anyways, I have a questions about honey and molasses. You stated you used and prefer honey over molasses. How different will it be if I used molasses instead? Just curious. Also, I have a 10 1/2″ x 15 1/2″ x 1″ cookie sheet. Is that the size of the cookie sheet you used? Again, thanks again for posting this recipe. I have tried other FFTG recipes, but have been disappointed. I will make this recipe to bring to a New Year’s Eve party. Best Regards!

  4. joy says:

    April, I didn’t reply here but I hope you received my email about your question.

  5. Elle says:

    Joy, those look very similar! I love the way you wrapped them,, too–I may try that next Christmas. Which is only 276 days away! I just checked–ack!

    Elle’s last blog post..Date Bars

  6. I’m making these over winter break. My daughter just said we need to bake more so there you go. Lola Daisy would be so proud of me!

    Practical Mommys last blog post..How to Make Holiday Keepsakes

  7. Will says:

    I don’t often comment on blogs but just needed to stop and say that I like yours.

  8. Clairee says:

    I tried making these FFTG, after baking them for 20 mins, i found that the cake is very moist… almost too oily and a bit too sweet for my taste… Maybe i put too much butter and sugar… or maybe I didn’t mix it that well… as some of the sugar settled at the bottom of the pan. Do you have any suggestions?

  9. Kris says:

    Awesome! Thanks for the recipe :) Love the way you laid it out, too

  10. Sisteract says:

    I’m glad I discovered your website. For this FFTG recipe, may I also have the size of the cookie sheet you used? And do I need to grease the cookie sheet (or put aluminum foil) before pouring the mixture? This being a rich “cake”, I would rather have it in thinner portions so I guess baking it in the cookie sheet would be an excellent idea. Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    • joy says:

      Hi Sisteract! The size of the cookie sheet I used was 11x1x17″ and it’s perfect for producing about half-an-inch thick of bars of FFTG. I would highly suggest lining the sheet with aluminum foil to make it easier to ‘peel’ off the bar from the sheet. They are quite sticky. Let me know how it goes! These are my absolute favorite bars to give and send to family and friends and they do not disappoint. :) Cheers.

  11. Sisteract says:

    Hi, just wanted to give you an update. For some reason, the FFTG came out (a little) crumbly and kept sticking to the aluminum foil. I thought I followed your recipe to the letter, then lined the cookie sheet with foil, and was just disappointed that it didn’t turn out like how I wanted it to be. It tasted yummy, though. Should I have greased the foil? I still want to try again as these are my sister’s favorite “cake bars.” Thanks.

    • joy says:

      It will stick to the aluminum foil, and that is the reason you need it or it will be a challenge to remove it from the baking sheet. Do you live anywhere humid or hot? You need to let it sit out overnight on the counter (if it’s not hot) or put it in the fridge for an hour before cutting it. Don’t cut it while warm or hot, or you will be very disappointed because of the crumbliness or stickiness. You cut it and you carefully peel away the foil from the bottom, best done with the help of a thin, hard spatula. Hope that helps.

      It’s not a cake bar like a brownie that you cut it and it comes out easily as bars. It’s not like that at all. It’s very chewy and sticky, which makes it so good.

      • Rose says:

        Try using parchment paper for the bottom and spread butter & dusted flour (or Crisco Flour non-stick spray) on the sides. It will be a lot easier taking it out of the pan after it cools.

  12. Sisteract says:

    I thank you for your patience in answering my questions. With the tips given, I won’t give up trying. By the way, I remember you saying you love to give these FFTG as gifts. How long are these good for? And what’s the best way to store these whether it be for future snacks or mailing to family/friends? Thanks again.

  13. Myles G says:

    Hi there. I came upon this site. My cousin gave a FoTG recipe calling for 1-1/2 cup sugar. I am thinking of taking this dish to my Cancer Support Holiday putluck party in 2 weeks. However, sugar is a big no-no for people fighting cancer.

    What would be a good substitute for the sugar? I have quite a bit of Splenda or (extract of Stevia). Any advice? Thank you.

    Myles

  14. anna says:

    Hi. This recipe is great!!!
    I thought I saw a page on costing
    this recipe but now i can’t find it.

    I have no idea how to cost so perhaps
    you can help me out?
    Anna

  15. anna says:

    Ok thanks. I gave the fftg as christmas gifts this year. They’re asking for more. ;-)

    Thanks for posting.

  16. Jackie says:

    Hi, love your recipe! A few notes though on what I did differently:

    1. I made this for my bf’s family and his mom doesn’t like too-sweet cookies/cakes. We decided to take out the 2/3 cup of white sugar and it still came out pretty tasty. They loved it so much that everyone had at least 2 or 3 pieces. All of it was gone the next day and I had cut it into 24 pieces.

    2. I used parchment paper without greasing it instead of aluminum foil and it came out perfectly – didn’t stick or anything! Some of the oil/butter even stayed on it so there’s less of it going into your body!

    I agree that it does come out a little oily, but that’s what makes it yummy! :) I don’t think I’ve ever had really good moist FFTG that wasn’t a bit oily..

    Overall though, simple recipe, easy to make, good tips! Thanks again for posting! Gonna go enjoy the batch I just made

  17. cj_nyc says:

    hi there. i tried making this recipe today without the dates and raisins since i don’t have it handy. however, it tasted really good even without it. the only change i did was instead of 2/3 c. of white sugar, i used a little less than that. i used parchment paper instead of aluminum foil it was perfect. its a too oily, so i might try using less than 1 c. of butter next time. thanks for sharing. i will be making this as christmas gifts this year!

    • joy says:

      Hi CJ, good to hear! The dates will absorb some of the butter, but since you’re not using it, might as well cut butter. :) Thank you for the feedback! I’ll have to try this without the fruit — but of course, it’s not a food for the gods without it.

  18. Ram says:

    Your recipe of FFTG looks awesome. I’ll trying yours next time I bake FFTG, I’m still searching for the gooey FFTG, I hope to end my seach with your recipe. Thanks for posting it.

    Tip for cutting your dates, use your kitchen scissors sprayed with PAM, you can also do this with your knife. I hope it helps.

  19. Clarissa says:

    :) I shall be linking your site from mine! :)

  20. Clarissa says:

    I shall be linking you to my website :)

  21. hazel says:

    it’s been a long time i wished i could bake now is the time and will try your recipe first,food for the gods is one of my faves when it comes to chewy cookies.thanks

  22. Richelle says:

    Is this recipe a more cakey version of FFTG? Or is it dense, fruity and nutty? Thank you

    • joy says:

      Richelle, this is a dense version — buttery and fruity. You can add another cup of walnuts to make it really nutty but it will tend to break apart more.

  23. Sandra says:

    Hey can i use foil sprayed with pam rather than parchment paper?
    HIgh five to last minute treat baking hehe :-)

    • joy says:

      You can use it, but it will be a sticky situation come cutting and serving time. Cool it in the fridge till it’s solid then slice and remove. :) Hope that helps. I’m doing a lot of last-minute baking, too! Happy holidays!

  24. Rosel Feraren says:

    Hello! Can you use a non stick baking pan instead of using parchment paper? I am sure you know what a pain it is to spread out this batter, it being packed and dense. Also, what is the height of the baking pan that you use.

  25. Foodie123 says:

    I’ve been alternating between hits and misses w/ my fftg. i would have a batch that would come out like a cake instead of crunchy on top. i wonder what i was doing wrong on those? any tips?

  26. George G says:

    This turned out perfectly! It’s just as I remember from my childhood in Manila, oh-so-many decades ago. And damn, that’s oily, haha! I’ve found 5 other recipes online and they were all fairly similar, but I chose this one since it had the Daily Bulletin’s stamp of approval. :)

    I used a 9 x 13″ pan, and what I did was exactly the same recipe here except I incorporated a cooking technique I read on other recipes online. I started at preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduced it to 300 for another 38 mins only because I miscalculated the timing. But it turned out perfectly, with the exception that the edges of the pan were a bit crisp, but still chewy and not at all burnt. A toothpick inserted in the center came out clean even while the center still looked a bit moist. I cooled them then chilled them in the fridge for 40 minutes before slicing.

    Thanks for the recipe! Yum!

  27. Jamie says:

    Hi! I tried to this last night using a 9 x 12.90 collie sheet and baked them for 30 min I think they were overdone and not chewy at all. When I set my timer to 15 min it still looked undone so I increased the baking time to 30; hence, was overdone. Should I still take it out at 15 min and just let it cool? Thanks in advance! They were yummy though!

  28. Thess says:

    This had lived up to it’s name- indeed, the food for the gods… so heavenly. It has been my go-to recipe for making holiday treats but had been baking this all season round! Thanks, my dear Joy :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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