Date Loaf Candy — A Forgotten Favorite


My grandmother introduced me to these delights, which are something of a fudge base with crisp pecan bits and the overall delicious taste of dates, a particular favorite fruit of mine. While there are a few versions of this candy out there, this recipe of mine is the original. It was passed down three generations to me and an almost identical recipe appeared in The Complete Confectioner published in 1864 by J.B. Lippincott & Co. of Philadelphia…and I am proud to have a tattered, but intact copy. ;-)The candy is delicious and always a welcomed addition to the Christmas repertoire…always bringing back memories of childhoods past.

The following is a modernized version of the original family recipe, tried and true many, many times.

Date Loaf Candy

1 cup milk
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups chopped, pitted dates
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

On a low humidity day (no greater than 50%), and with a calibrated candy thermometer

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, cook milk, sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly at first to dissolve sugar, then often (to prevent scorching), until the mixture reaches 234 degrees (F).

Remove the pan from heat and add the dates, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir briskly with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy and beginning to crystallize, but not yet stiff. Allow the candy to cool down for about ten minutes undisturbed in the pan.

Without scraping the sides of the pan, lift the candy by large spoonfuls into a rough log shape on a clean, slightly damp flour sack towel and roll the candy inside the towel to make a long log no greater than 2 inches in diameter. Roll the date loaf log completely in the damp towel and then wrap the towel well in waxed paper. Place the log into the refrigerator overnight, or at least 8 hours to completely chill. When completely chilled, cut into thin ¼-inch rounds, using a sharp knife that is frequently rinsed clean under hot water.

Store pieces without touching between waxed paper sheets in an airtight container.  The candy may be stored at room temperature for two months.

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~ by eheavenlygads on November 26, 2007.

5 Responses to “Date Loaf Candy — A Forgotten Favorite”

  1. This sounds like a delicious recipe and one I would love to try. In the future, do you think it would be possible to incorporate a picture now and then ? You know how pictures are worth a thousand words…

    SpinningSugar: Find a nice, dry day, Tindall, and give them a whirl! I really appreciate the suggestion to add pictures. I would LOVE to and have a ton to share of every confection, pie, cake I’ve mentioned. But I struggle with that greatly here at WordPress, since I have only a free account with significant limitations. As a result, I am seriously considering migrating to a stand-alone website just so I can add images.

    Nevertheless, I’ll give it another try. Perhaps things have improved for us “freebies” since I last attempted to add a pic.

    Many thanks for your comments and very best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season!

  2. Yes it is an original. My Grandmother came from Germany and I remember she always made this candy at Christmas. Then my Mother made it until she also past. I made it a few times but I was always the only one to eat it. You can’t emagine the surprise seeing it again. She also made a Date loaf Cake from a recipe she brought from the old country. Thanks for bring this candy it back.

  3. The recipe is absolutely the best of Christmas candies. My Mammy (maternal grandmother) handed this down to my Mother who was a phenomenal cook, baker, etc., and I learned to make this as a young girl. It is absolutely wonderful. The thing that I love about my grandmother’s recipe is her colloquial speech. When I read her recipe I can hear her speaking – a farm woman to the bone. It is a recipe that needs to be handed down to lots of generations. You really don’t want to lose this one.

  4. This sounds like the filling of See’s Candy’s “Date Nut” which used to be called (in unpolitically correct times) “Arabs”. It is in my top five favorite See’s varieties. Thanks for the recipe. They, of course, make it into small balls and coat with chocolate.

  5. Well, I tried your recipe and it is chilling in the fridge….I long for my grandmas dateloaf candy. I hope it turns out. Thanks for the recipe!

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