Taste a homemade date biscuit cake
June 13, 2018 | 12:52 PM
by Salim Al Afifi
Date biscuit cake

Dates are one of the most exciting and downright delicious ingredients cooks love to work with, as their versatility serves as quite an advantage. One can blend up a creamy puree to go contrastingly well with meaty chops, or bake a moist afternoon cake, full of plump, pitted dates and a bunch of crushed walnuts. A date is the perfect element that elevates any savoury dish with its hint of sweetness, and can be swapped with natural sugar for many desserts. This week, I am taking you to try a favourite homemade date treat for Iftars.

Omanis are known to love their dates, and one can see why these fruits are atop their list of cultural must-eat fruits. They have an immaculate flavour that brings joy to our palates, especially when consumed with the Omani kahwa.

I have tried a variety of fresh and dried dates, date cakes and milkshakes (a must-try, by the way), and even date sauces, but I constantly find myself going back to this very particular treat, made at home by a lovely lady who goes by the name of Asila Abdulla, whose hands work magic in creating beautiful, architectural pieces of dates filled with crunchy biscuits and garnished with roasted sesame seeds.

The dessert may not seem all that complex, but still, I was interested to find out how it’s made, and why it tastes so heavenly, so I drove to Asila’s place for a first-hand experience on how to make it.

As I arrived at her space, I found her seated comfortably on the patio outside her place, surrounded by bulks of dried-up soft dates, a bucket full of Marie tea biscuits, a bowl of bronze, dry-roasted sesame seeds, and some oil. She invited me in for a quick chat about the dessert.

It all started at home, where she and her friend would sit together to make date-filled treats to offer to guests, as it is a revered tradition in an Omani household to serve dates and coffee, but the women wanted to lend a crumbly touch to the smooth fruit by adding pieces of crushed ingredients. Instead of putting walnuts, almonds, and typical dried fruit inside the dates, they went for a lovely combination of biscuits covered in mashed dates, which is a beloved recipe across the region. Though there are many variations, I truly fell in love with this one.

“Roll up your sleeves, we will be here for a while,” she said. I rolled up my sleeves as requested and got engaged with the dates. I was overly thrilled and ready for her master class.

Though it took some time to finish making all the dates that Asila prepared, it was all worth it.

The Date Cake

First, pick dried, smooth pitted dates of your choice, scrunch them using your fingers to create a paste-like gummy creation. Then, make a circular base, the size of your Marie biscuit and stack the dates interchangeably with biscuits, making a miniature castle.

After that, cover the entire dessert with dates, which will form ball-like shapes. Toss the ball in some sesame seeds, and then slice it carefully into tiny triangular pieces, and voila!

For something this simple to taste so impeccably great is quite interesting. Asila handed me a box-full of these treats and by the time I reached home, the box was half empty. It was that good. —[email protected]

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