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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Date Bars


Actually, Date Nut Bars. This is my grandmother's recipe, and as far back as I can remember, her and my mom always made these. Every holiday, and if we were lucky--just because. When I was old enough, I wanted to help, too. Eventually, my mom decided she was sick of baking (can you even believe that?! hehe), and the job became mine. Yay! I was more than happy to take over.

I still love making these, and they bring back such memories. You know, I thought I'd talk a little about my mom today. She passed away a little over a year ago, and I just realized...it's still too hard for me to do it. Maybe in a few more years, when the pain isn't like a punch in the stomach. I miss her terribly, and just typing this little bit about her has made me all teary.

But sorry to bring you down! Let's talk about the date bars. They are perfect. I really mean that. I don't know, are date bars like brownies or chocolate chip cookies? Does everyone have their own favorite way to have date bars? These are the only ones I've ever had, so I'm not sure. I do like variety, but I don't ever mess with these. Ever.

Except this time. I lied...I did mess with them. I cut the sugar in the filling to a generous half cup, instead of the usual three quarters. For the crust, I used half white flour and half white whole wheat flour. We couldn't tell the difference. In fact, my 12 (almost 13. Dear God, help us, hehe) year old came in the kitchen to have one. She tasted and went on and on about how great they were. It was THEN that I told her they were half whole wheat flour. She stopped, thought about it, shrugged, took a second one and left the room. Ha! Another convert. ;) My husband, who loves when I use whole wheat flour, was thrilled, and said these were the best batch I'd ever made. I love that man.

These are extremely simple to make. But you have to do two things. You have to be sure to press the bottom crust firmly, but not *too* firmly, in the into the pan. And after you put the filling over and add the top crust, again, press sort of firmly, but not too firmly. Make sense? Use your judgement. You obviously don't want a bunch of loose crumbs tossed in the pan, but you don't want to squish it down to a fraction of an inch, either. You with me? Good. Next, bake it for 25 minutes. Not a minute more! I'm serious on this one--no tweaking here. As long as your oven is running at a fairly normal temp (make sure your 350 isn't actually heating to something like 390), 25 minutes is all these need. Oh, and you should let them cool as much as you can before you cut them. I know, it's too hard to wait for stuff to cool, and I hardly ever do. So I'll look away while you cut a square to try. ;) Oh, that was three things, wasn't it?

Finally, the recipe!

Date Nut Bars

Crust:

1 3/4 cups oatmeal

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt


Date Filling:

1 lb chopped dates

3/4 cup sugar (you can cut this amount to 1/2 cup)

1 cup water

1 Tbs butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts


Make the filling:

Boil dates, sugar, and water until thick, about 5-10 minutes.

Add 1 Tbs butter, the vanilla, and the walnuts.

Set aside to cool a bit.

Prepare the crust: Combine all dry ingredients with the melted butter.

Firmly press half of the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.

Cover with filling mixture.


Look at that datey, nutty goodness!



Top with remaining half of crust mixture. Press lightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Really, I mean it--no longer than that!

Cut into squares when cool, and store in an airtight container.


To print this recipe, click here!



I'm sure my mom would approve. :)

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27 comments:

Pixie said...

Elle, these sound wonderful- I love passed down family recipes. I'm fed up of purchasing nasty fruit bars in their package-I'm adding you to my reader and shall star this one for sure!

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

That looks delicious! I have never had a date bar before, in fact I don't think i have tried dates before at all! The recipe sounds delicious, and anything passed down by generation has got to be fantastic!

Zen Chef said...

Do you have any leftovers to send me? :-)
I didn't go on a big date for a while, these would make a nice subsitute! haha!

Mango Power Girl said...

yum, these look healthy & yummy. I would eat one for breakfast everyday. Nice of you to show all the detailed steps!

amandalwh said...

*pat elle on the back* hold on to the wonderful memories... u did a great job! those are beautiful and i am sure those mus be very very delicious as well! :) Thanks for the wonderful guide as well. I cannot find a reason not to make them! :P Meanwhile, enjoy the Easter Holidays, keep those yummy inherited recipes coming! :P

Jessica said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog, but I just have to tell you that these look DELICIOUS! I've never had a date bar before (I can hear you gasping-- it's okay...), but I am definitely adding these to my "to bake" pile!

Also, thank you so much for sharing about your mother. You absolutely were not a downer at all-- thank you for being so open about the poignant nature of this recipe... It makes it all the sweeter. :-)

Brilynn said...

My Grandma makes some excellent date bars as well, these look great!

michelle @ the smackdown said...

i do almost taste the date-y, nutty goodness, i do! yummy.

Joy said...

Looks nummy, Elle! In the Philippines, we make something similar called Food For The Gods. I like your version with the top and bottom crust. I'll have to try that.

Elle said...

pixie--I'm with you, the store bought fruit bars are just full of preservatives and other nasty stuff. Thanks for stopping by!

jessy--dates are so good! I like them whole and stuffed with a pecan. mmmm! But they're good in just about anything.

zen--I'll send you some of these, and you can send me one of your mushroom tarts, ok? ;)

mango--they are good any time of the day. Trust me, i know this personally, hehe.

amanda--thank you so much! and you enjoy your Easter as well.

jessica--thanks so much for your kind words. They are much appreciated!

brilynn--there's just something about grandmothers and date bars, isn't there? Good old fashioned comfort.

michelle--thanks for stopping in to comment!

joy--I looked at yours, they look delicious, as well! And dates certainly are food for the gods, right?

Kevin said...

I have never had a date bar. They look great! I really like the idea of using dates and nuts to make a cookie/bar. Bookmarked to try.

LisaRene said...

Love this type of dessert. I think of it as a portable version of a fruit crumble (cobbler). Your directions truly are helpful.

Elle said...

Thank you Kevin and LisaRene!

Mansi Desai said...

wow, I could surely use some of those bars right now! they look beautiful Elle:)

Tarah said...

Oh yuuuuummmm!!!!

Those look so good~! I want to try these. Send me some???? :d

This is going on my to do list. They look so delicious and beautiful! Well done.

Elle said...

Mansi--thank you so much! I could some more, too. They're all gone! phooey.

Tarah--when i make some more, I'll get them right out to you, hehe. Thanks for visiting!

parsnipsaplenty said...

So I'm moving in a couple of months and am trying to clean out the pantry - I had about 1/2 pound fresh dates hanging around and made this recipe on a whim. Lots of tweaks to serve my refusal to go to the store when I can substitute :), but I'll mention that I dumped a bunch of spices in, used honey in the crust, and added coconut instead of walnuts... and omigoodness I am in date-bar heaven. Thank you!

Also - I just added you to my blogroll. You've got a great site!

Elle said...

parsnips--I love the idea of adding coconut! Thanks for giving them a try!

RHOCHELLE KUROPAT said...

Oh my gosh! I have been thinking about my Mom and craving her date nut bars. I never got her recipe for them. She passed away a little over a year ago.I can relate to your sadness. This recipe is just like the one she always made. Thankyou for sharing it Rhochelle Kuropat

Elle said...

Rhochelle, thanks for the comment. Every single time I make these bars, I think of my mom. They were her favorite, and the more nuts, the better, lol.

I'm so sorry about the loss of your mom. It's especially hard for me around the holidays, since she loved them so much.

I'll be thinking of you, and i hope if you make these, they'll remind you of your mom.

Take care!

Stacy said...

I am smelling your wonderful date bars in the over as I write this. My husband has been raving about the bakery's date bars and I wanted to make him some that weren't so, you know, commercial. I can tell by the smell that these will be wonderful! Thanks for the detailed tips too, that helped a lot. My daughter is the baker in the family and I shared your site with her and she's now enjoying it too. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I was tasting date bars my mom made when I was a child and found your recipe from a google search.
These certainly brought back a lot of memories! They are more wonderful than I had remembered!

Jill said...

What a lovely presentation! My boss, who is extremely hard to please, was going on and on about the date nut bars his mom use to make. His birthday is this week. I will be making your (and your Mom's) date nut bars. Thank you so much for sharing :)

Elle said...

Thank you, everyone!

Jill, I hope you'll come back and let me know how you liked them! And i hope your boss gives you a raise, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

I made these for an office birthday party and everyone loved them! This is a great recipe! Thanks for sharing it!

Zee said...

Just made these for a baby shower for 2 friends -- and they were a BIG hit! I'm making them for a barbeque tonight. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Elle said...

Anon and Zee--thank you both so much! I'm so happy that you enjoyed them!

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