Dates….not a huge fan. In fact, in my opinion, dried fruit is not dessert. If I am going to have something sweet, it will usually be in the cake family. And chocolate. And gooey. That being said, there are a few things about dates that I think of with fondness.
I have a memory of delicious date nut bread that was made by Van de Kamp bakery when I was young. My mom introduced me to this treat, warm and slathered with cream cheese. Oh my, it was yummy…but not dessert.
And, how could I forget Date Shakes from Hadleys near Palm Springs, California. My dad was a huge California Angels fan and when I was young, we spent many weekends driving out to watch the Angel’s spring training games. Date shakes were part of the experience…but not dessert.
So, I guess dates hold a certain nostalgia for me, but again…they are not dessert.
By now all of you date lovers out there are probably getting pretty annoyed at me for maligning your precious dates. I promise I will keep an open mind as I attempt to recreate some of those date memories from my childhood with the next cupcake in my quest…Date nut cupcakes.
After lining the muffin pans, I whisked together the dry ingredients. This recipe includes one of my favorite spices, cardamom. Then I chopped dates. And chopped. And chopped. And chopped. Did I mention that there were lots of dates? I added boiling water to the dates and butter. After stirring for a few minutes, I added brown sugar, a beaten egg and vanilla paste. Finally, I stirred in the dry ingredients and walnuts. Easy peasy.
The batter reminded me of a muffin batter, maybe because of all the dates and nuts.
I have to admit, the aroma was fantastic. After they were cool, I frosted them. Again, very easy. The suggested topping was crème fraiche. OMG…now, we’re talking! I almost decided to deviate from the original recipe and frost these with cream cheese frosting, but am I glad I didn’t. I hope that all of you have had a chance to try this amazing ingredient. It is very hard to describe; not sour cream, not butter, not whipped cream or cream cheese – just imagine taking the best of all of these ingredients and you have crème fraiche. Add to this no prep, and what you have is a perfect topping!
Now, tasting! My husband loved these. I knew he would because his taste in desserts is just about the polar opposite of mine. And he loves any kind of dried fruit. I tasted them and…..they were good! I loved the sweetness and the crunchiness from the nuts. Plus they were topped with crème fraiche. Yum.
I cannot lie, these were good but certainly not my favorites. A few others who tasted these also liked them very much. They mentioned sweetness and moistness and called them muffin-like. I can’t say that I have completely changed my mind about dates, but it was nice remembering date nut bread and date shakes. Good times.