I was at the supermarket last week and saw a display, right when I walked in, of dates. I grabbed a box and figured I'd do something with them. As picky as I am, I always liked date bars as a kid and thought that might be something good to try with Simon...I cannot even tell you the last time I had date bars myself. Well, over the weekend I went to make then and saw that I needed 2 boxes of them, not just my one lonely box of them. That box sat lonely for a few more days until I picked up another one and joined them together for the recipe.
I usually like to post a link to someone elses recipe but this one, I cannot find online. It's a King Arthur one from their All-Purpose Baking Book but it differs from the one they do have on their website. If you are a baker by any means, pick up this book...it's excellent. I refer to it time and time again and it's starting to show the love..spatters on the pages, turned up corners, ripped cover...all signs of a well-loved cookbook!! If you want the other recipe, here is the link to it...it's very similar but does have different steps...I did borrow the added spices from the online version and added it to the book version:
King Arthur Date Nut Squares
And here is the book version:
15 to 16 ounces of chopped dates
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
Basically what ya do is...put all the filling ingredients in a sauce pan...bring them to a boil on medium heat or so. Turn down the heat and let it simmer till most of the water has been absorbed, about 3-4 minutes.
While that pot-o-goodness is cooling, you get the crust going. Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together. The spices I added were 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. You would add these in with the dry ingredients. Stir in your melted butter as best you can then dig in with your hands to get the last bits combined together...don't mash it down, just lighty pull it all together.
Spray your 9x9 pan or whatever similar size you like to use with cooking spray....I have an 11x7 that I love for stuff like this that I use...you could also use and 8x8...just adjust your cooking times. Take 2 1/2 cups of the oat mixture and pat it in the bottom of the pan nice and evenly. Once that's done, spread the pot-o-goodness contents (date filling) onto the oat layer. I like to use an off-set spatula to do this job...gets it nice and even every time! From there you drop in your toasted nut pieces into the remainder of the oat mixture left in the bowl and sprinkle that on top of the date mixture.
Pop this baby into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake it until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let these guys cool completely before you cut them to let the date layer set up. (When you cut these I love that some of the topping falls off into the bottom of the pan...I like to scoop it up and eat it all when no one is looking...shhhhhh, don't tell anyone cus it's the best part!)
Here are some pics I took along the way:
Filling ingredients just put into the pan
Toasting the pecans. I put them in the oven right after it's done preheating and set the timer so I don't forget. Set it for a few minutes and keep checking them OFTEN...there's nothing worse than over-doing it...burnt nuts are so not a good thing...they're ruined and smell horrible!
See how the color has changed?
All the dry ingredients waiting to be mixed up
A few bars to munch on with Simon when he gets home from school
Here you can see the layers, the oats, the nuts...good stuff!