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.


~ by eheavenlygads on November 26, 2007.

22 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!

  6. Have been looking for this! as a girl my granny ALWAYS made this for thanksgiving & christmas.. i would go stay with her the days we got out of school before he holidays.. but has a girl didn’t think to get recipes… just remember al the love she put in it! thanks for bringing back the memory!

  7. my mother and grandmother made this candy as i was growing up ,they made it with whipping cream instead og milk it is just as good or better.!! YUMMY

  8. My grandmother added finely chopped candied cherries to make it colorful for Christmas.

  9. My mom made this everyyear at Christmas! Wonderful!

  10. I will surely try this.

  11. I made this for Christmas and followed the recipe to a T. It turned out perfect. and tasted just like I remember from many years ago. Using a thermometer is crucial I think unless you have made it many times and know exactly how many minutes to cook it. I kept the sides scraped down from the start during the stirring so as not to waste anything. I have been asked for this recipe by men who tried it!

  12. I’m so glad you posted this recipe on the Internet. My mother used to make this recipe every Christmas. My memories of Christmas included being at my grandmother’s house surrounded by all my aunts, uncles, and cousins, lots of food, fudge and my mom’s Date Loaf candy. When Mom passed away, the recipe was lost. Of all the recipes I’ve read, this sounds closest to the ingredients she used. Of course, there weren’t any candy thermometers back then, so we learned all about the different “ball” stages of cooking candy.

    I haven’t seen Date Loaf candy in years. It’s time to ressurect the tradition!
    Thank you soooo much!

  13. i have made this candy at christmas as long as i can remember…it has been pasted down thru my family as well. it is so great to hear that families have kept such a sweet tradition going:)

  14. I havae been looking for candy recipe since 1980. Never occured to me to find in on google. Thanks so much for a wonder recipe. My Dad made in every Christmas, and we have been without him since 1980.

    Merry Christmas

  15. Talk about memories!! I have my grandmothers hand written recipe for this candy, and at the bottom she wrote “now haul off and bust a gut” one of my most treasured recipes!! Thanks

  16. Thank you!! This is the recipe I’m sure my aunt used when i was a child. I have hoped to find it for years and now you have made that happen. Thanks for the pic too- that’s
    how I’m sure it is the right one!!

  17. My mother always made this candy at Christmas, I was looking for another recipe today and for some reason I googled date nut candy and I found yours. I thought we were the only family who made this candy. I have handed the recipe down to my kids and one day I’ll get to make it with my granddaughters when they get old enough. I love it and have to make it for my daughter who loves, loves, loves it. Some years at Christmas time it sets really well and some years it doesn’t but we still eat it anyway. Humidity does make a difference. My mother never used a candy thermometer, she always knew when it was ready to pour out of the pot. Thanks for sharing your recipe with everyone. I think mine is the same. I know putting it in the damp towel is the same as mine and the wax paper.

  18. This sounds like the recipe I’ve been trying to find for years. My mom and I made something that sounds very much like this. I remember rolling it in a damp dish towel and putting it in the refrigerator. My memory is that it was the best candy I’d ever eaten ( and I love candy, so I’ve eaten a lot). I hope this tastes as good as I remember. Thanks for resurrecting it for me.

  19. If this is the original recipe, it’s not easy to make and there is a learning curve … be persistent. But it’s worth the effort.

  20. Great recipe. Ours dates (indio Ca.) from 1910 has 4 C. sugar & 1cKaro Yours sounds better

  21. I have looked for this recipe forever, it is Christmas to me. Each loaf was decorated with pecan halves all over it and tied up with a red bow. My grandmother had to hide it from me. It is the only “Pecan Candy” I was raised on, which is why I couldn’t find the recipe. Thanks!

  22. This is just like the recipe that my Mom used and I’ve been looking everywhere for it!! Rolling the candy in the damp towel tells me this is the right recipe!!! Thank you so much for posting this, I can’t wait to make it!!!

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