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Author Notes: I caramelized some brown sugar, butter, and dates this week to make a family cookie recipe. I was kind of infatuated with the date caramel that resulted, and wanted to see if it would work as a simple pie filling. It's everything I hoped it would be, like a slice of soft, nuanced caramel. In fact, if you didn't know if was made with dates, you might not guess it. My 16-year old thought it was a slice of caramel pie after school today. The crust doesn't serve up neatly, but if you don't mind a homespun looking dessert, the almonds give it a deeply toasted flavor. If you don't have Celtic salt, add just a pinch of conventional salt to the pie. —ALittleZaftig
Serves 12 modest pieces
For the Crust
cup whole almonds
cups very finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Date Caramel
pounds whole dates
cup unsalted butter
cups brown sugar
teaspoons Celtic salt
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place the almonds on a sheet pan and bake them for 10 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through the baking time. When they have cooled a bit, grind them finely using a food processor.
- Lower the oven heat to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the ground almonds, graham cracker crumbs, and melted butter, stirring them with a fork to combine. Press the mixture firmly into a pie plate with your fingertips until it reaches up the sides and is uniform. Bake the crust for ten minutes and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, slice the dates in half and remove their pits. In a large pan over low heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and dates, stirring periodically. The dates will melt down into the brown sugar and butter and caramelize. This takes a bit of time, just pop in on it every few minutes to give it a stir. Towards the end of the process, stir more frequently so that the mixture does not burn. It should smell caramelized when it is ready.
- Pour the date caramel into the crust and spread it with a spatula. It will set at room temperature.