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Sticky Toffee Date Bars

Time1 hour
YieldsMakes 4 dozen
Sticky Toffee Date bar cookies baked by Ben Mims in the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen.
(Hannah Mills / For The Times)
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This recipe takes the flavor of sticky toffee pudding — a classic British dessert, especially around the holidays — and packages it in an irresistibly chewy rectangle of a cookie. Chopped dates and molasses contribute a sticky richness, while a topping of turbinado sugar offers plenty of crunch to contrast the soft cookie. This cookie requires a bit of pan-banging to release the air that’s produced from the baking soda as the cookie slab bakes. It might seem unnecessary, but this technique is what gives the cookie its distinctive texture. And when it comes to chopping dates, I find that periodically running the blade of your knife and your fingers under cold water helps tame the stickiness without making the slippery mess of doing the same with vegetable oil.

This recipe is a part of the L.A. Times 2022 Holiday Bar Cookies.

1

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with baking spray, then line the bottom and two long sides with a sheet of parchment paper, cut to fit so it lies perfectly flat in the pan. Bend the excess parchment paper over the edges of the pan. If using metal binder clips, fasten the parchment to the edges of the pan (see Essential Bar Cookie Equipment).

2

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger and salt and whisk to combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or using a large bowl and a handheld mixer), combine the sugar, molasses and butter and beat on medium speed until fluffy and light, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg until smooth, then add the dates and lemon juice and mix until incorporated.

3

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing just until no patches of flour remain. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape off the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the dough is well-mixed. Scrape the dough into the prepared baking pan and press it into an even layer. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the dough, then shake the pan from side to side — as if you’re sifting for gold — to ensure the sugar is distributed evenly and coats all the dough.

4

Bake the cookie slab for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan, then remove it from the oven and bang it firmly on the counter to deflate the batter. Return the pan to the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.

5

Remove the pan from the oven and firmly bang it against the counter once more to deflate the cookie slab. While the cookie slab is hot, sprinkle it liberally with the silver and gold sprinkles. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cookie slab cool completely.

6

Using the overhanging parchment paper like a sling, lift the slab from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board; slide out and discard the parchment. Using a long, thin knife and a ruler as a guide, cut the slab into 4 lengthwise rows by 12 crosswise columns into 48 bars.