One of my favorite flavors from childhood is the Chinese date and walnut candy that I probably ate too much of. It's super sticky and chewy and, well, candy-like. But I've grown out of my cravings for candy, and now I'm more of a cake and cookie person when I want sweets, so I've put together some of the flavors of the candy from my youth with more of a thin, chewy bar-cookie texture. They are still sweet but with the interesting mix of the dates, brown sugar, and powdered sugar. These bars are easy to put together and happen to be gluten-free, but it's fine to substitute in a half cup of all-purpose flour if you like. Still warm, their texture is more tender, but let them sit overnight, and their texture becomes nice and chewy. Try substituting dried figs for the dates for an even more grown-up flavor. —vvvanessa
vegetable oil or butter for greasing the pans
(2 1/2 ounces) mochi flour (sweet rice flour), plus extra for the pans
(3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
(2 ounces) brown sugar, light or dark
plus a scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons
finely grated orange zest
(4 1/2 ounces) chopped walnuts
(5 1/2 ounces) chopped medjool dates cut into pieces not bigger than 1/2-inch square
Heat the oven to 300ºF degrees. Generously oil and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Line them with parchment if you can.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and salt. In a larger bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, and zest until the eggs just start to get frothy. Thoroughly mix in the dates, walnuts, and flour mixture.
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, which will hold about 12 ounces of batter each. Spread the batter out evenly; an offset spatula works great for this. The layer of batter will be thin.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pans 15 minutes in. They are done when the tops just start to brown and the tops feel set.
Mix the powdered sugar and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cool the cookies until the pans are cool enough to handle but still a little warm. Remove them from the pans-- there will be sticking, and an offset spatula again can come in handy for loosening the cookies from the edges. Sift the sugar-cinnamon mixture over the cookies. Cut each "cake" into 16 wedges. Serve completely cooled, ideally after resting for a few hours.