Chocolate Chip Date Nut Cake

March 27, 2011 · 27 comments

filed in: Bakery,Desserts,Fruit

Chocolate Chip Date Nut Cake

This simple and old-fashioned cake, a slightly updated version of one my mother has been baking for decades, is my favorite cake, hands-down, no question about it. Several attributes make it a winner in my eyes: It doesn’t need frosting and to me tastes better without it. It’s very moist when stored at room temperature and is actually better on the second day. And finally, the combination of chocolate and dates does something truly wonderful for the taste buds.

For those of you who are eager to get on with the recipe, please go ahead without me. I’ll just linger here a moment, reminiscing about the background of this cake.┬áMy mother, an 86-pound confirmed sweet hound, was and still is a child’s idea of a great mom. She never yelled or hovered. She showed enormous patience in teaching us kids the skills needed for self-sufficiency — far more than I did with my own — and was always positive about our achievements. Best of all, from a child’s point of view, she usually had homemade treats on the kitchen counter when we returned from school in the afternoon, to fortify us during our homework time. This cake was among them, and Mother’s strategy worked. I was always happy to do homework, even after leaving home and going off to university, where such treats were most definitely few and far between.


1 1/4 cups dried dates, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
(Optional) 1 tablespoon sifted confectioner’s sugar for topping


  1. In a small mixing bowl, mix the chopped dates, boiling water, and baking soda. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.
  2. Oil a 9″ bundt pan, 9″ spring form pan, or 8″ x 12″ cake pan and set aside. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla and beat until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for approximately two minutes after each addition.
  4. Sift together the whole wheat flour, white flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Gently stir one-half of the flour mixture and one-half of the date mixture into the batter until just incorporated. Repeat. Gently stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  5. Depending on the baking pan used, bake 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on a cake rack and, if preferred, dust the top of the cake with sifted confectioner’s sugar. Serves 8-10.

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{ 27 them below or add one }

Helen July 2, 2013 at 4:08 am

This is delicious! I was searching for a recipe similar to what my grandmother used to make and this is it. I followed the recipe to a T and it came out very moist and with a delicious flavor. Thanks for the clear instructions, the lovely pictures and the sweet stories about your mother.


Heather Davis April 6, 2011 at 6:29 pm

What a lovely thing to say about your Mom. Patience is everything.


Beth April 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

What a lovely tribute to your mother! I wouldn’t have thought of putting dates and chocolate together, but this cake sounds great.


Cookin' Canuck April 3, 2011 at 11:52 pm

What a lovely tribute to your mother. It sounds as though she was a patient, caring mother when you were growing up. Plus, she made wonderful treats like this. You had it made!


Delishhh April 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Never made one of these before, but looks so good, and adding dates YUM! So nice!


Shelby April 1, 2011 at 5:42 am

I have made a chocolate date cake before – and really loved it! However, I wish I could say I was as tiny as your mom and still be a sweet hound! lol. Kind of sounds like my mom!!


A Canadian Foodie March 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Gorgeous photographs and lovely moist delicious recipe. My dad adores date cakes of any kind. And the tribute to your mother is beautiful. All of that baked into this cake makes it a must try for me… and I know my dad will be very appreciative. Thank you, Barbara dearest. I will tell my parents about your mom and your favourite cake.


Kiran March 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I got a little emotional reading this post. Brought back sweet memories of my mom and me baking away together. Always loved cakes without icing.


Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen March 29, 2011 at 3:26 am

I love these kind of inherited recipes, they are the best and always bring back good memories when we make them. I loved reading about your mom, sounds like she was a petite woman with an enormous heart and a lot of talent in the kitchen.


Megan March 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I love all three things here. Dates, chocolate, and cake! You know this is a winner in my book!


marla March 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Barbara, I always get so excited when I see you have a new post. Such sweet memories of you mom. Sounds like she is a little gal like me.
I am a huge fan of chocolate date cakes & I have one to share down the road too. Yours looks amazing. I’ll trade you the chocolate cereal for a slice of this.


Barbara March 30, 2011 at 6:29 am

It’s a deal, Marla!


Karen March 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Thank for sharing this delicious recipe, Barbara. Sounds like your mom had a few (tasty) tricks up her sleeve when you were growing up. It’s funny how we never out grow some of our childhood favorites. I can easily see why this was (and still is) one of your favorites!


Maria March 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

Lovely cake! I wish I had a piece now.


farida March 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

The Nut Cake is favourite cake my son, that look so delicious.Thanks for share your recipe.


Shaina March 28, 2011 at 10:11 am

What a delicious and classic cake. Some of my favorite cakes are the ones my grandma made while I was growing up. And your mother sounds absolutely lovely.


Jane Bonacci - The Heritage Cook March 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

Serious YUM!!!


Renee (kudos kitchen) March 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

I love that this is made with whole wheat flour. I’ll bet the addition of dates really keeps this cake moist! Sounds delicious.


Julie March 28, 2011 at 12:52 am

Sounds delish! And I love that it’s easy. I made sticky toffee pudding a while back that seemed similar but this has the added bonus of chocolate.


Claudie March 27, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I really like dates so when you combine those with two other favorites of mine — chocolate and nuts, there’s no way I could refuse this cake :) Also, it looks perfectly baked! Would love to have some of this cake on an afternoon with my coffee while reading.


Amanda March 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Sounds wonderful Barbara! I can see how this would have been a favorite!


deeba March 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I love cakes sans frosting, the healthier, the better! Must get some dates Barbara. I love your recipes. xo


bellini March 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Another winner Barbara. I love a cake that can stand on its own merit and does not require icing.


sonia March 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

This is looking absolutely delightful. Very nicely made and presented and would love to try this recipe.


Elizabeth March 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm

We *love* date cake, and yours looks perfect. Thanks for sharing the recipe, and the memories.


fooddreamer March 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Looks truly delicious and I love the pattern with the powdered sugar!


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme March 27, 2011 at 10:35 am

I have always loved that combination of dates with brown sugar and pecans. I make a Christmas candy using those ingredients, but using those flavors in a cake – wow. I love cakes but always seem to push the frosting aside. It’s mostly too sweet for me. A cake that is just slightly sweet and can stand on its own without frosting – that’s the cake for me!

I loved hearing a little about your mother and her sweet tooth. Sounds like you were fortunate children indeed.


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