Walnuts Cake

1 8-ounce package chopped, pitted dates
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup vegetable shortening (I use butter-flavor Crisco)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 larges eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped Fisher walnuts
1/4 cup coarse sparkling sugar, optional


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Place dates into a medium, heat-resistant bowl and pour boiling water over the dates. Stir in baking soda. The mixture may foam up a bit, this is completely normal. Set bowl aside to cool for 15-20 minutes.
Once dates have cooled, use an electric mixer to cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the dates and liquid.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread the batter evenly. If desired, sprinkle the top of the batter with coarse sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.
Tightly cover leftover cake and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.


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