WW Recipe of the Day: Old-Fashioned Date Bars
(176 calories | 8 8 8 myWW *SmartPoints value per serving)
Here's an easy homemade classic 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.
What is a date bar?
A date bar is a simple cookie bar consisting of two crumbly oatmeal layers sandwiching a layer of gooey date filling. Naturally gluten free, low in added sugar, and made with just five ingredients: dates, oats, butter, brown sugar and baking soda, they come together quickly.
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.
What do dates taste like?
Dates are very sweet and caramel-y. If you had to compare a date to another fruit, it would essentially be comparable to a bigger, jammier, more caramel-y raisin. There are several different kinds of dates. Medjool, which are bigger and softer than most, are a personal favorite.
How do you use Medjool dates?
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 bar!
In addition to eating them as they are, you can add them to a cheese plate, slice them in half, remove the pit and stuff them with olive tapenade, wrap them in bacon and bake them, chop them and add them to breads, muffins or cookies or toss them into smothies or salads. The options are endless.
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.
How Many Calories and Weight Watchers Points in these Date Bars/Squares?
According to my calculations, each bar has about 176 calories and
8 *SmartPoints (Green plan)
8 *SmartPoints (Blue plan)
8 *SmartPoints (Purple plan)
5 *PointsPlus (Old plan)
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.
Tips & tricks for making date bars
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 ¼ cup of sugar in the filling, but I often leave it out since I find dates sweet enough on their own.
What else can you add to a date bar?
While plain date bars are great, there are lots of things you can add to them including:
- Oranje juice/zest
- Other dried fruit such as craisins, figs, raisins
- Fig butter
- Chopped nuts
- Espresso powder
- Chocolate chips
How do you store date paste?
Date paste, which is essentially pureed dates, can be stored up to six months in an airtight container in a cool dry place and up to one year when refrigerated.
Curious about Weight Watchers new myWW Green, Blue and Purple plans? Watch this short video to learn more:
If you've made these date squares, please give the recipe a star rating below and leave a comment letting me know how you liked them.
Old-Fashioned Date Bars Recipe
For the Date Filling:
- 2 cups chopped pitted dates (about 10 ounces)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
For the Oat Crust:
- 1-¾ cups old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (not instant)
- 1-½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup butter, melted
- Position an oven rack in the center and preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick 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.
- 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 ¼-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 24 squares, bars, or triangles.
*PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT each plan's ZeroPoint Foods (Green plan, Blue plan, Purple plan) using the WW Recipe Builder.
If you like these old-fashioned date bars, you might also like:
- Pumpkin Nut Date Bars (Carrots 'n Cake)
- Rice Krispie Date Balls (Simple-Nourished-Living)
- Easy Orange Oat Date Bars (Betty Crocker)
- Gluten Free Maple Date Squares - Celiac Teen
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This post was originally published on April 6, 2011. It was updated with new pictures, recipe notes and nutritional information on December 1, 2018.
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