"Chinese Chews" = Date Walnut Bars

So, the mystery of the name "Chinese Chews" lives on............some people think they were called "Chinese" because dates were "exotic" and dates were hard to find many moons ago.
Sort of makes sense, since there is nothing remotely Asian about this recipe.

Many women remember their mothers or grandmothers making these back during WWII. I have never heard of them, nor tried them (I'm not THAT old!), but I was intrigued by all the bakers making them lately.

If you have 45 minutes (including the baking time), or if you don't like to bake, then these are for you.

They were silly easy and yielded delicious, chewy delights.

And I love dates and nuts, so it was a win win.

Let's just call them:
Date & Walnut Bars: (adapted from Simply Recipes)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 eggs, well-beaten
Confectioners sugar, for topping

I used Medjool dates from Israel, because they are big and luscious and I always have them in the cupboard. Only problem, is you have to pit them and they are a sticky mess.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a whisk.

Add in the walnuts and then the dates and mix in with the flour.

Add in the 3 eggs (you don't have to do it one at a time as the recipe says..........some of the commenters say they come out better when you just add them all in at once).

The batter will be nice and sticky.

The recipe calls for an 8" x 10" pan, and really, who has that?
Mine is close, so I used that, give or take an inch.

Recipe says: Butter AND flour the pan, or the bars will definitely stick.
Stacey says: Line the pan with parchment paper and nothing sticks. Ever. Promise.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan with a rubber spatula.

Bake at 300F for 30 minutes, the top should be nice and golden.
Let cool in the pan about 15 minutes before slicing.

Dust with confectioner's sugar and eat.


Ancient Chinese Secret.

Pin It


Anonymous said…
One of our book club members served these to us a year or so ago. I'd never had them. She was using her mother's recipe, which dated back to the 50s.

They are delicious.

Anonymous said…
Forgive second post, but here is a recipe I found a while back. The blogger makes a good point. Because of the amount of butter and sugar, this could not be a WWII era recipe. More like the late 50s when everyone was once again drowning in butter:


Her and her mother's quest for the recipe makes interesting reading. Well worth the download and a little time.

My Italian-American grandmother and great aunt used to make these for family parties and claimed the recipe was a North Bergen secret. We called them China Chews. Growing up, I never understood how a "Chinese" dessert would come out of her kitchen, but eventually I, too, realized there's nothing Asian about the recipe. Thanks for reminding me how much I love these!
Ciao Chow Linda said…
Oh yes Stacey - dates and walnuts and butter and sugar. What's not to love?
Anonymous said…
Last post. Promise.

Just noticed a critical difference between your adapted recipe and the one in the link I posted above - a pound (!) of butter! (No time to do a complete comparison, so there may be other differences as well.)

Yours has to be good. Just another version, as Simply Recipes notes in the text accompanying their recipe.

June said…
My Mum always made Chinese Chews as one of her Christmas goodies, She formed spoonfuls of the cooked batter into balls, rolled them in vanilla icing and then in coconut or chopped walnuts. She loved candied ginger so she would always add a small amount to the batter, and my Dad who disliked ginger intensely would always get the cookie or two that had the ginger!
Stacey...Those bars look phenomenal. Chewy and crunchy, my favorite combination! YUM.
Foodiewife said…
Brilliant move on parchment paper. Love it. Never heard of these. I have the dates and walnuts on hand. Guess what snacky thing I'm making this weekend?
I'm going to make these very soon, you know I love dates and nuts!
weeza said…
My recipe that I've had since the 70s is mostly the same, but uses 1 t. vanilla and only 2 eggs. Made in a 9 x 13 pan, while still quite warm, cut into 24 squares, roll into date shape, then roll in granulated sugar.
Joanne said…
Well I can't say that I've ever experienced these but next time I have some dates to use up they will definitely be made!
I made these years ago. Also no butter and they were amazing! I'll be making these for sure
Anonymous said…
Stacey you're funny. Stacey says, "use
parchment nothing sticks ever
promise" gave me a laugh. I've picked
up a number of tips from your cooking
style and how you adapt recipes to
ingredients in your cupboard when
Oui Chef said…
I like your name better, and I would have killed myself years ago were it not for parchment...it's a lifesaver!