Happy World Chocolate Day, Beautiful People!
Jewish people are obligated to say one hundred blessings every day, and observant Jews are making every effort to do it, well, religiously. There are two reasons for it. First, in Deuteronomy, Moses poses a rhetorical question to the people:”What does G-d ask of you?” Says the Talmud that the word “Mah” (What) should be read as “Meah” – one hundred, thus obligating us to say one hundred Brochos (blessings) a day. Since Hebrew generally is written without vowels, it makes perfect sense. Secondly, during the times of King David’s reign, there was a terrible plague; one hundred people died every day. “Ah! – remembered the King,- let’s all start saying those one hundred Brohos a day!” They did, and the plague stopped. Thus, the rule was reinforced empirically, so to speak.
No doubt, it’s a great way to keep us in good health, but how do we get to this number? If you do your math and divide 100 into a typical 16-hour day, you’ll have to say a blessing every ten minutes! So the scholars added up all the blessings that are included in the three daily services and came up with… ninety! Where do we get ten more? Why, we do have to eat every day, so if you add the blessings before and after the meals, you reach your goal. Fine? We are done? Not yet, not that quick! You see, on Shabbos, the three services contain only seven blessings each, as opposed to the nineteen blessings each on weekdays. So we are short again – oy vey! And on Shabbos, the holiest of the days!
To get out of this sticky situation, we have cookies and cakes. Every time you grab a cookie or a piece of cake, you have to say Brochos, both before and after. No wonder we bake, and bake, and bake, especially for Shabbos! There is only one condition: those baked goods must contain grain. In other words, they could be gluten free if you consider spelt gluten free, but you should really ask your doctor. Almond, coconut, corn, rice, and other types of gluten free flours do not qualify.
Therefore, to keep my husband, who has a major sweet tooth, in good health by giving him a chance to say those one hundred Brohos a day, I put these chocolate peanut butter date cookies on a spelt cookie crust – also chocolate, of course!
First you have to soak the dates. Even though I usually get pitted Medjool dates, I still check for pits that are sometimes accidentally found. My food processor doesn’t like to be surprised!
While the dates are soaking, you can make the crust. You need spelt flour, Smart Balance or any other butter substitute, baking powder, brown sugar, and unsweetened cocoa. Cream Smart Balance with sugar and add the dry ingredients.
Now comes the tricky part. Lightly mist a baking sheet with oil, plop your batter on it, cover it with plastic wrap and flatten it.
Use a rolling pin to make it uniformly thin, about 1/4 inch or less (1/2 cm). Lift the plastic and grab a fork. Stab the dough with a fork criss-cross to indicate one inch squares. Those will be your breaking lines. Stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes and get back to your dates that are ready to be processed. Drain the water and process them together with some olive oil and coconut milk, peanut butter, vanilla and agave, and don’t forget cocoa! Keep pulsing and scraping the sides until you get a creamy delicious paste.
Your crust should be ready by now, but you need to cool it first, otherwise your cookie squares will crumble. Meanwhile, keep your date paste refrigerated. Once the cookie squares are cooled sufficiently, you can separate them and marry them with their dates. Aren’t they lucky! Cover each square with a tablespoon of date paste and flatten it lightly to give it a nice shape.
Top them with berries or nuts (I also added some candy sparkles, just for fun!) and enjoy them in good health!
- 2/3 cup Smart Balance or any butter substitute of your choice at room temperature
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates, soaked in warm water for 30 min
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon or more agave
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup or more unsweetened cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cream butter with sugar. Stir in the rest of crust ingredients.
- Spread the batter evenly in lightly misted with oil baking pan. Cover batter with plastic wrap and flatten with rolling pin to 1/8 inch (1/2 cm) thickness. Prick with fork to indicate 1-inch square breaking lines.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until edges turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan. Gently break into squares.
- Soak dates for 30 minutes. Process all ingredients, add more cocoa and/or agave if necessary. Scrape sides and pulse to a creamy uniform paste. Refrigerate until cookie crusts are cooled off.
- Cover each cookie crust with a tablespoon of date paste, lightly flatten to shape. Top with berries or nuts.