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Author Notes: Happy to spend a few more days with my Italian-American grandfather before he passed, I took a chance to rifle through his and my late Nana's recipe boxes, stuffed to the brim with hand-written cards, newspaper clippings, and even a weathered spongecake recipe written in Italian. Slowly working my way through these family recipes, I recently tried this hand-written dessert recipe for Monadnoch Bars... and ended up with a cake. Research in online newspaper archives revealed that Nana's recipe is likely adapted from a recipe for "Debbie Stewart's Monadnock Bars" from page 18 of the July 9, 1962 Telegraph (Nashua, NH), in a column called "Country Flavor" by Haydn Pearson. Nana added 1 c flour and subtracted 1/2 t almond flavoring -- so those desiring more bar, less cake, should try that original version. Dates and chocolate are still the stars of Nana's cake adaptation. —lydiaencyclopda
Makes one cake
- 1 cup dates, chopped
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup shortening (I used 2 sticks of butter)
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate bits
- 1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
- Combine chopped dates and boiling water and let sit until the mixture is cool. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cream the sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla to the creamed sugar and blend well. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
- Pour the watery date mixture into the creamed sugar and mix well. Slowly add the mixed dry ingredients. Combine well.
- Pour batter into a 15 x 10" greased baking pan (breaking the batter up between two differently-sized pans will also work, just monitor the cooking time for each). Sprinkle the chopped chocolate and nuts on top.
- Bake in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove and let sit before enjoying.