Here’s an easy homemade date bars recipe from my Nana’s recipe file that’s scribbled on an old recipe card in her distinctive handwriting. Just holding it and reading it brings her back to me.
I love classic simple homemade dessert recipes like this that have been passed down through the generations. I’ll take these old-fashioned date bars (date squares, matrimonial bars or whatever you want to call them) over fancy multi-tiered desserts prepared by the finest pastry chef any day!
Of course, it goes without saying that this is a sweet treat for people who like dates. I happen to love dates and am always looking for ways to use them in desserts, snacks and appetizers. It usually takes just one or two sweet succulent Medjool dates to satisfy my sweet tooth whenever it strikes. A much healthier alternative than an afternoon Snickers!
When you make these, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you stir together dates, water and sugar for the filling and then pop your pan of date bars into the oven. The smell of dates, oats, and brown sugar will fill the air. I think I love baking for the comforting smells, as much as for the delicious tastes.
I love to serve these old fashioned date squares as a rustic home-style dessert following a casual family dinner, when enjoying afternoon tea with a special friend, and I’ve even been known to indulge in date squares for a quick and tasty breakfast treat every now and then.
Date Bars Recipe
This recipe is delicious as written and is also very flexible. It can be made with a variety of dried fruits such as raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dried apricots instead of dates. For an added flavor boost try adding 2 tablespoons of a coordinating jam to the filling.
The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar in the filling, but I often leave it out since I find dates sweet enough on their own.
For the Filling
2 cups chopped pitted dates (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
For the Crust
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted
Prep Time: 30 minutes Bake Time: 25 to 35 minutes
Position an oven rack in the center and preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Make the filling by combining the dates, sugar and water in a medium saucepan and cooking over medium-low to medium heat until it’s thick. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
To prepare the crumb crust, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda in a medium bowl with a fork or whisk. Add the butter and combine until the mixture is crumbly.
Press half of the oat crumb mixture into the prepared pan. Spread the prepared date filling on top of the oat crumb mixture to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the pan. Top with the remaining oat crumb mixture, patting it down lightly.
Bake the date squares for 25 to 35 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares, bars, or triangles.
Yield: One 9×13 pan of date squares
You might also like…