Yes. I know. How can dates and walnuts ever be described as sexy.
Well, maybe it's just time to re-think sexy, and welcome some new players into this exclusive (and elusive?) club. After all, it's not all about outward appearances. Most of the time it's about how we are made to feel. And this pie is here to help bring back the inner sexy. Or so I hear.
Recipes are usually inherited. And I inherited this one from an unexpected source - Luna's wonderful Farsi teacher. One day she was kind enough to bring us fresh, plump dates from the Persian store. The girls love dates. We got to talking about making different desserts using dates. She asked if I had ever tried ranginak - a dessert made with dates and walnuts. I had never heard of it. She went on to describe how she makes it, and very casually mentioned that gentlemen in particular love it for how it makes them feel.
It's an aphrodisiac. It gives "energy" and increases the libido.
Ahem - my curiosity piqued - of course.
It turns out walnuts and dates have been used for centuries to increase the libido. I always refer to dates as natural energy bars. Besides being delicious, they are packed with essential nutrients and vitamins and give you that extra boost of energy when you need it. It is said Middle Eastern men have been relying on dates to increase their sexual stamina for centuries. Walnuts, I discovered, are used as a natural Viagra. (The omega-3 fatty oils help with "blood circulation" and like many other nuts they contain arginine - an amino acid which has been said to help with erectile dysfunction.)
It should be mentioned here that for as long as I have been thinking of starting this blog - not once did I think the words "Viagra" and "erectile dysfunction" would find their way in to a post of mine. But here we are.
After about 20 minutes of stirring, my batter had thickened somewhat but was still much more runny than desired. And because of the whole-grain spelt flour, it's color actually got darker - more like a rich brown. All was lost I thought. I should have stuck with the original butter/white flour mixture.
But I forged ahead and poured the batter over the dates. After the pie cooled I cut into a piece, releasing the toppings' fragrant mix of flavors: cinnamon, cardamom, pistachios, and a hint of coconut. And then, the first bite: the crunch of walnuts, and the soft chewiness of dates. The girls tried a piece, and burst into an impromptu dance. Still, the dough topping was not holding shape as I would have liked it to. Dismayed, I wrapped it up and put it in the fridge.
When I took it out the next morning - Hurrah! - the batter was no longer loose. It had taken shape. Accidental success! I only should have cut it into squares the night before. The pieces can crumble easily, so presentation-wise it is best to cut it before putting it in the fridge.
Also, a note on cinnamon. It is a spice I use quite often in both savory and sweet dishes. Which is why I was so intrigued to find out from the lovely Shiva Rose about it's different varieties, and it's effects on our health.
As for the this will cure you effects of a Date and Walnut Pie? Even if all of the above mentioned ingredients don't produce the sought after results, maybe sometimes all we need to bring back the sexy is a mere suggestion. A hint of a dessert with "magical" powers, or a giggle over the possibility. All while sharing a bite or two of Date and Walnut Pie.
Happy Valentine's Day.
DATE AND WALNUT PIE inspired by S. joon
1 cup walnuts broken in half or coarsely chopped
30 dates approximately or enough to fill a pie plate
1 cup coconut oil (or 1 cup butter or ghee)*
2 cups whole grain spelt flour (or 1 1/2 cups all- purpose flour)*
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup ground or finely chopped unsalted pistachios
shredded unsweetened coconut (optional) for garnish
1- Arrange dates tightly next to each other in a 9-inch pie plate or similar size serving dish. Determine how many dates you'll need. Cut a small slit vertically in each date to take the pit out.
2- Toast the walnuts in a large pan over medium heat. Roughly 5 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool.
3- In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and cardamom.
4- Fill each date with a walnut half. And place in the pie plate.
5- Melt the coconut oil over medium heat. You can use the same pan used to toast the walnuts. Add the flour, stirring constantly. The batter will start to turn into a dark rich brown and thicken. About 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye and a nose on it. You don't want the flour to start burning.
* If using the butter/all-purpose flour batter look for it to change to a caramel like consistency and color. About 15 minutes.
6- Pour the hot batter over the dates. Packing it down and making sure the surface is smooth with the back of your spoon. No lumps on the top.
7- Drizzle the maple syrup evenly over the hot batter.
8- Sprinkle the cinnamon/cardamom mix evenly over the hot batter. It will soak right into the batter.
9- Sprinkle the pistachios over the top. Sprinkle as much shredded coconut as you like on top of the pistachios. Set aside and allow to cool. About 1 hour.
10- Once cool cut in small squares. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
* If using the butter/all-purpose flour batter you can serve once the pie has cooled.
11- Once the batter has set in the fridge arrange squares on a serving dish or serve right out of the pie plate.
Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.