Beaver Island Dessert (Date Walnut and Chocolate Chip Cake)

By • April 28, 2014 1 Comments

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Author Notes: Hail to Michigan for this recipe! This cake is unabashedly sweet without being one-note, but I enhanced it slightly by enhancing the topping. I think that slightly bitter black walnuts, a touch more salt, and dark chocolate really make this classic sing. The end result is a moist cake offset by a crisped sugar, chocolate, and walnut topping that yields the flavor profile of chocolate-chip cookie with great textural contrast. Family lore states that this dessert was invented at the Beaver Island Lodge, located of the tip of the mitten in Lake Michigan. Corby


Serves 24


  • 1.5 cups Boiling water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Baking soda (divided)
  • 1/2 pound Chopped pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup Unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Flour

Cake Topping

  • 1/2 cup White sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cup Chopped black walnuts
  • 10 ounces Dark chocolate/semisweet chips (65% or greater)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9x12 cake pan.
  2. Get you mise-en-place ready. The date mixture must be hot to incorporate into the batter.
  3. Place the dates, boiling water, and one teaspoon of the baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Sift the remaining baking soda, the salt and flour together in a bowl.
  5. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it is pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and stir until incorporated. Add the extract, if using.
  6. Add the flour and date mixture alternately and stir until just combined. Pour into the greased 9x12 pan and level the batter.
  7. Stir the sugar and salt together. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the walnuts, then the chocolate chips, and finally the sugar, making sure sugar gets into the edges and crevasses in the topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a skewer can be removed cleanly. Cut into squares when slightly cooled.
  8. Serving suggestion: warm from the oven with french vanilla ice cream.

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