Food for the Gods, a classic Filipino dessert, is a staple at Anthony Huxley's family gatherings. "It's a dish that's been a running theme," says the New York City Ballet principal. "My uncle made it once, and forgot to add the flour. It was a disaster, but Food for the Gods is so good, we still ended up enjoying it."
The recipe for these date-and-walnut–filled bite-size confections originally comes from Huxley's grandmother and namesake, Antoinette Osmeña, but it has evolved over the years. "This recipe substitutes half of the sugar with molasses, which gives it a deeper flavor," says Huxley. He also likes to include orange blossom water for an added perfume. "Connecting over Food for the Gods, and really any Filipino food, brings our whole family closer together," he says.
- 1 cup butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsps molasses
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups dates, finely chopped
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
- 2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped
- Huxley's grandmother says the first step is always to remove all items in your oven (since "most of us use it as storage," says Osmeña). Then preheat to 350°F.
- Using a stand mixer with the beater attachment, cream butter and white sugar, gradually increasing the speed to high. Add brown sugar and molasses, and continue mixing until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- With the mixer still running, add eggs and vanilla, and continue beating until combined.
- Turn the mixer off and add the dates. Gradually increase speed again until the dates are fully incorporated. This can take some time.
- Lower the speed to medium and add the flour and baking powder. Beat until fully incorporated. Add orange blossom water if using. Add walnuts and continue mixing.
- When the walnuts are evenly mixed into the batter, turn the mixer off. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into a 9-by-13–inch baking dish lined with tin foil.
- Bake for 25–30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool to room temperature and cut into 1-inch squares.
- Wrap squares individually with plastic wrap or foil. This will help the squares maintain their shape and ensures maximum "fudginess."