Serves a Crowd

Beaver Island Dessert (Date Walnut and Chocolate Chip Cake)

April 28, 2014
2 Ratings
Photo by Corby
  • Serves 24
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda (divided)
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 pound chopped pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups AP Flour
  • Cake Topping
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped black walnuts
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate/semisweet chips (68% or greater)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9x12 glass dish.
  2. Place the dates, boiling water, and one teaspoon of the baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Get you mise-en-place ready. The date mixture must be hot to incorporate into the batter.
  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.
  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. Avoid stabbing a chocolate chip!
  8. Serving suggestion: warm from the oven with french vanilla ice cream. Cut into squares when slightly cooled.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ali Slagle
    Ali Slagle
  • luvcookbooks
  • Corby

3 Reviews

Ali S. March 3, 2017
The ingredient list calls for black walnuts, but the third photo shows regular walnuts. Which is correct, or can you use either?
Corby March 11, 2017
You can use either (I couldn't order black in time to submit the photos with black ones) but the intense sweetness is, IMHO improved by the stronger walnut flavor.
luvcookbooks April 30, 2014
From the big state of Wisconsin, can I suggest you add a little more info to your dessert title, so people searching for a date walnut cake could find it? Fabulous recipe and I admit I was intrigued into looking at the recipe by the title, so maybe not, just a thought!