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
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
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.
I'm sure my mom would approve. :)