Date Bars

Throw away whatever Fig Newtons you may have in the house. They cannot compare. (And please forgive the not-so-great pictures…my camera wasn’t being too compliant with me).

The natural caramel-like sweetness of the dates + chewy oatmeal crust make the best pair. These may not be as cute as Pop Hearts, but they’re absolutely delicious. And (relatively) healthy compared to your average bar with rolled oats replacing the majority of the flour and apple sauce in place of a third of the butter.

I used to dislike dates, but as I grew older I discovered that dates are similar to cheese (not in taste, obviously). You can dislike certain kinds of cheeses, but you can’t possibly hate all cheese. The same rule applies with dates–there are so many different varieties of dates (Wikipedia it and you’ll find over 40 kinds) that it’s impossible to generalize.

In America, there isn’t much variety. You know those already-pitted dates that come in those large plastic bags? Blegh. In my opinion, they’re stale, bland, and taste like the plastic they come in. The Medjool dates here, however, are great. I usually find them at wholesale stores such as BJ’s or Sam’s Club…they aren’t pitted, but who cares? They’re near-effortless to pit and taste incredible. So soft, sweet, and caramelicious!

Oh, and random fact: Dates are actually a staple during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims have to fast from dawn until sunset. When it’s time to eat, it’s sunnah (religious tradition, but not obligation) for dates to be the first thing you eat before you start digging in.

Okay I’m going to stop sounding like an advertisement for dates and get back to what’s really important: these almost-guilt-free bars. Give them a try and I’m sure you and your family will love them.

And they also happen to be perfect with a cup of tea. (But I secretly think I’d rather eat it with chocolate milk).

Date Bars (loosely adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted pastry flour (I used all-purpose. Worked great, and I think it would be fabulous with 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (or 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened (I used 1/2 cup butter + 1/3 cup of unsweetened apple sauce. It worked perfectly, but keep in mind that it also made my crumb mixture a whole lot less crumby, which I liked)
  • 3/4 pound pitted (preferably Medjool) dates, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I omitted this since dates are naturally sweet and added a dash of molasses instead)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (I didn’t add this since I used baking powder instead of baking soda)
  • A tablespoon or 2 of flour to thicken the mixture

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, pastry flour, salt, 1 cup brown sugar, and baking soda. Mix in the butter until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. (Note: I tried using a 9 x 13 pan and it wasn’t enough to fill the entire pan.)
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the dates, water, and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook until thickened. Stir in lemon juice, and remove from heat. Spread the filling over the base, and pat the remaining crumb mixture on top.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until top is lightly toasted. Cool before cutting into squares.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 pound pitted dates, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, pastry flour, salt, 1 cup brown sugar, and baking soda. Mix in the butter until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch square baking pan.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the dates, water, and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook until thickened. Stir in lemon juice, and remove from heat. Spread the filling over the base, and pat the remaining crumb mixture on top.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until top is lightly toasted. Cool before cutting into squares.
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29 Responses to Date Bars

  1. Faith says:

    Yum! Date bars are one of my favorite things to make with dates, and I haven’t made them in so long! (The last time I made them was for Eid al Fitr in 2009…I had actually wanted to make my mother-in-law’s date-filled cookies, but mine didn’t turn out well…believe it or not, I still haven’t mastered the recipe, lol!) Your date bars look fantastic, the oats pair so nicely with the sweetness of the dates!

  2. Victoria says:

    I love dates, and appreciate that you made this dessert relatively healthy with the oats and all :) I too never really cared for dates, but over the years I’ve grown an appreciation. Especially for dates wrapped in bacon, but we were talking healthy, right? haha

  3. These are amazing! Combination of oat and dates are perfect, love the changes you’ve made especially omitting the sugar, delicious….

  4. Tine says:

    Oh my god, I have to make these!
    I eat a date everyday. And a fig.
    You think I can make this with figs instead of dates? Just for trying?

  5. Beautiful! I’m not a date person, either…will have to try to find some of the Medjool dates so I can make this!

  6. Kori says:

    Yum and yum! I saw your comment about my date post today, and being a date lover, I had to see what you posted…and these look amazing! What a great treat! Bookmarked :)

  7. Tanvi says:

    I love Medjool dates because I do not use sugar with them.I see that you have even used oats with them.So healthy & nutritious !I would love to make them and add some prunes & figs too..my mouth is already watering as I write this :)

  8. briarrose says:

    Dates are so yummy. I don’t see enough recipes using them. These bars look super tasty.

  9. Jay says:

    Looks yumm, delicious n mouthwatering…awesome space you have…glad to follow u..
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty appetite

  10. Medeja says:

    Oats and dates.. should be nice combination :) I think I ll try something like that when I’ll have oven..

  11. Mary says:

    I haven’t made date bars in an age. These sound wonderful and I’ll have to give them a try. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  12. Clare says:

    You are so right about the chocolate milk.

  13. I thought I didn’t like dates – but must follow your advice and give a few types a try!!

    Your date bars look amazing though.

  14. Megan says:

    Oooh, I love these! I have been meaning to make fruit bars soon and just haven’t gotten around to actually doing it. Now, you have inspired me! I love healthier desserts too, feeling great and tasting great are my 2 favorite combinations!

  15. Dates are so sweet and delicious! I would love this bar. I like that you took out the brown sugar and added molasses. That seems like a perfect touch. Have a great weekend!

  16. Joanne says:

    I’m going to whole foods today and I think I’m going to have to invest in some medjools! These bars look too good not to make immediately.

  17. Kristen says:

    I have made all sorts of date cookies and breads before, but it hadn’t occurred to me to use them in this sort of bar. It is a perfect way to showcase dates, though. Delicious.

  18. Simply Life says:

    oh my gosh, those look SO good!

  19. Lisa says:

    I’ve never thought of eating a date bar before, but you certainly make me think twice about it. Your bars look super. I have a new linky on my blog called “Sweets for a Saturday” and I’d like to invite you to stop by and link this up. http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/2011/01/sweets-for-saturday-1_21.html

  20. How did I comment on the wrong post? oh boo! I’m half asleep. haha sowwy love@!

  21. Lisa says:

    Thanks so much for linking this up with Sweets for a Saturday. I truly appreciate your support. Hope to see you again next week. By then, I’ll have a cute button that you can grab and add to your post.

  22. Susan says:

    Oh, I love date bars but haven’t had them for far too long. This sounds like a great recipe. I’m much rather have this kind of treat than almost any other (chocolate being the only exception!).

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