Ever eaten incaberries? Nah, me either until I received an email from the incaberry folks here in Australia. They wanted to know if I’d like some berries to play with.
I was honest and told them I’d never heard of them before but I was willing to give it a go. They taste much like a dried cranberry with a different flavor if that makes any sense. They are sweet but tart and are often eaten dried with cheese or tossed on cereal or put in muffins.
For some reason all I could think of was making them into a bar or a slice as it’s called here in Australia. If you’re in the states and aren’t young any more, you’d remember the date bars you could buy in a box. You’d make the crust and pat it down and then mix the date mixture and smooth it over the base and then sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top and bake.
I decided that a mixture of incaberries and dates would do the trick. I will confess, I wasn’t running on all cylinders the day I made these. I put the incaberries in the pot along with the dates and after checking the net for how much sugar to put with the berries, I added a cup of sugar per cup of incaberries. What I didn’t think about was how much these puppies would swell (a lot). I also didn’t account for how sweet the dates were (very).
After about an hour I had a potful of these things and I tasted the juice. It was so sweet I wanted to cry. So I did what anyone else would do, I tossed in another handful of berries. Cooked, tasted and still not right because now I had too many berries and the mixture was too tart and a bit bitter. More sugar. Still not right. Then I did what always works. I tossed in a couple of ounces of brandy. Perfect.
I made the crust mixture, buttered the pan, reserved a cup of crust mixture for topping and patted the remainder on the bottom. The incaberry and date paste/filling smoothed over beautifully. I sprinkled the topping and into the oven.
Once they were out I photographed and then tasted. Eh~~ One bite and I figured I could live without them.
Fast forward to the following morning and my friend Di came over to work on her new blog. She’s new to blogging and sometimes it can be overwhelming to get it all under control so we work at it a few hours a week. I offered her a cup of tea and one of the “slices” I’d made the previous day. I didn’t say what I thought of them and she said, “OMG these are SO good.”
I looked at her funny and thought she was just being polite so I took a bite and she was right, they were delicious. The flavors must have come together once they cooled down and sat around for a while. So my first impression was wrong. I had another friend stop by later in the day and she thought they were so good she took the rest of the pan home with her.
Incaberries are really good for you. They have a higher antioxidant capacity than other known superfoods such as apples or gojiberries and they’re also really high in fibre – more than all other common dried fruit. No gluten, no cholesterol, have protein, low in sodium and high in phosphorus and potassium.
I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not a healthy eater. A quick perusal of my recipes and photos make that abundantly clear but I WANT to eat healthier so when I ate the whole bar I felt downright righteous. If you’re thinking, “my God there’s 80 pounds of sugar in that stuff,” fear not. I have 5 cups of that filling left over. The bars fill an 8″ x 8″ pan so I’m set for incaberry and date bars until 2016.
- 1 cup incaberries
- 1 cup dates
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 oz brandy (optional) I don't think it's necessary but it makes an adult treat
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup uncooked oats (quick cooking preferred)
- ½ packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter (softened)
- If you are the plan ahead sort of person, you could soak the incaberries overnight but that's not who I am.
- Tumble the incaberries and dates into a saucepan larger than you think you need (they will swell)
- Add sugar and cook on low heat until the berries and dates are very soft and thick. Add more water if your heat is higher than mine. The consistency should be like really soft icing.
- Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes and then whiz in a blender or food processor and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Toss all crust ingredients into a food processor and whiz until mixture looks like soft crumbs.
- Reserve one cup of this mixture and pat the rest in the bottom of a buttered 8" x 8" pan.
- Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture on top and bake for 30-35 minutes until light brown.
- Cool completely before cutting apart. They're better on day two.
If you haven’t tried eating an incaberry before, I strongly suggest you give it a try. Think healthy! I give you permission to feel righteously healthy when you make these. Oh, and if you need some filling, I’ve got plenty. A big thanks to the Incaberry.com.au folks for sending the incaberries.
Check out Food Writer Friday – this week it’s Lizzie Moult from Strayed from the Table.