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Columns

Tom’s Cookbook Library: Anticipated ‘Sweet’ worth the wait

“Sweet," by Yotam Ottolenghi, has more than 120 innovative recipes, including more than 30 gluten-free recipes, as well as nut-free options.
“Sweet," by Yotam Ottolenghi, has more than 120 innovative recipes, including more than 30 gluten-free recipes, as well as nut-free options.

Celebrated cookbook author and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi draws on his patisserie experience in “Sweet” (Ten Speed Press), a just-released volume.

His five earlier books found a place on the New York Times bestsellers list.

London-based chef Ottolenghi worked on the baking and desserts cookbook with longtime collaborator Helen Goh.

Their book includes more than 120 innovative recipes from Tahini and Halva Brownies and Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread to Espresso Parfait for a Crowd and Apricot and Amaretto Cheesecake.

Home cooks also will find more than 30 gluten-free recipes, as well as nut-free options.

“Sweet” offers home cooks a mother lode of tasty treats. Check out Soft Date and Oat Bars (recipe below).

Soft Date and Oat Bars

Makes about 14

1/3 cup whole almonds, skin on

1/3 cup cashews

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

7 to 8 large Medjool dates, pitted, halved lengthwise, and each half cut into 3 pieces

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cup demerara sugar

1/4 cup date syrup (or dark corn syrup)

Freshly grated zest of one small orange (one teaspoon)

2 teaspoons orange blossom water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-by-8-inch baking dish or pan and line with parchment paper, then set aside.

2. Spread the almonds and cashews out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, or until the nuts are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before chopping into roughly 2/3-inch pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

3. While the nuts are in the oven, place three-quarter cup of the oats in a food processor and roughly pulse; you want them to be broken into small pieces rather than turned to powder. Add the processed oats (which will help keep the bars together when baked) to the unprocessed oats in a bowl and set aside.

4. Place all of the seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently, so that they toast evenly. Add the seeds to the chopped nuts along with the dates and all of the oats. Mix to combine and set aside.

5. Place the butter, sugar, date syrup (or corn syrup) and orange zest in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Stir gently until the butter has melted (don't worry if the demerara sugar is not melted, it will add to the crunch) and the mixture comes together. Remove from the heat, stir in the orange blossom water, cinnamon and salt, then pour over oat mixture. Mix well and tip out into the lined baking dish. Use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to spread and press the mixture evenly into the lined dish.

6. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until bubbling and a dark golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 30 minutes before cutting into squares or 3-by-1-inch rectangles; however you slice them, you want to do so before they harden. Don't remove them from the baking dish until they are completely cool; however, as they will crumble and fall apart.

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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