On September 18th, 2012, I lost one of the most important and influential women in my life. My Aunt Diane passed away after a brief battle with Pancreatic Cancer. This would explain my absence in blogging. This post is for her.
In recent years, I’ve been on a crusade to document our family recipes, which can sometime prove difficult because a lot of these recipes aren’t written down, rather, committed to my grandmother’s memory.
Growing up, Date Square could always be found at family gatherings, and it was always homemade. This is my Aunt’s recipe, and I’m so glad I asked her for this recipe years ago so this tradition can still carry on. I made a batch of these beauties for the family for after the funeral. As soon as everyone knew there was Date Square, they were off their seats, and literally running into the kitchen to grab a few pieces.
- Dates: There are lots of recipes out there for date square that call for Medjool dates. Can I be honest? I’ve only used those delicious, jammy Medjool dates once. It’s more work than it’s worth. I prefer using the vacuum sealed pack of dates you find in the baking aisle at the grocery store. It’s what my aunt used and it’s super convenient. They’re already pitted, and it’s super quick to chop them up. Use what you can find and what your budget will afford. This recipe will work with either kind.
- Oats: Use old-fashioned rolled oats. They have a nice chewy texture and make for a great crumble topping. Quick oats could work in a pinch, I suppose, but they’re processed in a way that allows them cook quickly, and they could get too soft. I’ve always stuck with old-fashioned and never tried quick oats for this recipe so I can’t say for certain the outcome. I’d wager they would still be delicious.
- Salt: My aunts recipe originally didn’t call for salt. Baked sweet goods need a little salt so your tastebuds can taste the full range of flavours. I’ve added a touch of salt to the filling only. I used salted butter for the crumble, and felt that salt wasn’t needed there because of it.
- Brown Sugar: I’ve seen a lot of recipes that call for sugar in the date filling. And I ask myself, why? Have you bitten into a date before? If you had, you would know how delightfully sweet they are without anything added, so why bother? But definitely add some to the oaty crumble.
What kind of food traditions does your family have? I’m always curious to learn about what dishes are special to other people.
Old Fashioned Date Square
- 375 grams pitted dates vacuum packed or fresh Medjool dates - about 20
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats not instant
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup butter cut into pieces
- Cut dates into small pieces. If using fresh Medjool dates, pit them first, then chop into small pieces.
- Add dates and water to a medium saucepan.
- Bring to just a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the dates break down and become thick.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, rolled oats, brown sugar and baking soda.
- Melt the butter, and pour into the oat mixture and stir to combine.
- Transfer about half to 2/3 of the oat mixture to the prepared 8x8 baking pan and press into an even layer.
- Top with the cooled date mixture, using an offset spatula to create a smooth, even layer.
- Top with remaining oat mixture, and press gently with your fingertips.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crumble topping has browned and the filling is set.
- Allow to cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting into squares.
Nutritional calculation was provided by WP Recipe Maker and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator
- If you want a thinner square, use a 9x13 inch pan.