Friday, March 11, 2011

Date Bar Pie

All of us recognize the "Toll house" name to be associated with chocolate chips, cookies and Nestle.  However, not many know about the history behind this name.

There was a place called the Toll House Inn located in Massachusetts back in 1709.  Then in 1930, a new inn was built under the same name.  Apparently one night the owners wife, Ruth Wakefield, ran out of butter and tried to use chocolate in her cookies. She thought that the oil or grease in the chocolate would make up for the missing butter.  That is how chocolate chip cookies got started.

As time passed,  the inn got sold a few times while the original owners were busy publishing cookbooks.  In 1984, on New Years Eve, the place caught fire and burned.  The fire started in the oven and went up through the oven vent (very laden with grease).  Now all that is left is the sign and several very good recipes.

This particular pie recipe stems from the original date bars as created by Ruth.  The oatmeal cookie crust compliments the not too sweet date filling. It is also a very easy pie to make that does not require a lot of ingredients.  Date bars are not all the rage these days, so a few may not have ever eaten this.  However, as vintage as it is, it will bring back childhood memories for some.

Date Bar Pie
adapted from the book Pie, Pie, Pie

3 tbs rum
3/4 cup of water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups whole pitted dates
1 apple

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbs or 1 1/4 sticks of butter

Start with a large heavy saucepan.  Chop all the dates and put in saucepan.  Then core, peel and grate the apple.  Add the grated apple to the saucepan also.  Add the 3/4 cup of water, brown sugar and then salt.  Place saucepan on medium heat and cook all ingredients, stirring constantly.  The mixture should cook into a thick, syrupy filling that resembles the texture of pecan pie filling.  That should take about 5-7 minutes.  Set aside and let cool for 15 minutes.

Then stir in the rum.  If you feel the filling is too stiff, stir in a tablespoon or two of water.  Some dates are drier than others, so the water may be needed.  Set filling aside again.

Butter or grease the pie tin and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take a large bowl and sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add brown sugar and oats, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Then melt the butter in a microwave and pour into dry mixture.  Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure all the butter is evenly distributed. It should be crumbly.

Measure out 1 cup of the brown sugar crumbs and place in the pie tin.  Press it evenly over the bottom (not sides).  Then fill the tin with the date filling, smoothing out with a spoon.  Lastly, sprinkle on the rest of the crust mixture.

Bake pie for 35-40 minutes.  The topping should be a brown, solid crust when the pie is done. Cool in pie tin set on a rack for 45 minutes prior to cutting.  Pie can be served warm or at room temperature.