Start your drool engines! You know the flavors have blended perfectly in a baked goodie when you can’t wait to share them and to make them again. This is one of those bars. They are very similar to a bar I made many years ago from an old cookbook.
The bottom crust and top crumble are full of crunchy oats blended with butter and just enough brown sugar to make them sweet, but not too sweet. (And it’s the same batter so it goes together quickly.)
The middle date layer blends orange zest, orange juice, and a bit of lemon to create a citrus note that really works with the natural sweetness of dates. Yes, this is a recipe to bookmark.
Dates are one of nature’s candies. They’re a fruit and so sticky-wonderful you can convince your sweet tooth they’re bad for you…but they’re not. They are full of vitamins and fiber. Our little secret.
These are the final pick for the couple I’ve been baking for as part of an auction for our church. So these, too are adapted from Esther Brody’s “500 Best Cookies, Bars and Squares.” She calls them “Matrimonial Date Bars.
Ingredients for filling
2 cups chopped pitted dates
2/3 cup water
2 TBS packed brown sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest
2 TBS orange juice (I used orange concentrate to make the orange note really sing.)
1 tsp lemon juice
Ingredients for Oat base and top
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C)
Grease a 9 x 13 cake pan.
Prepare filling by cooking dates, water, brown sugar and zest over medium heat until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and add orange and lemon juices. Set aside to cool.
For top and bottom crusts, mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut in the softened butter. Mix until there are coarse crumbs.
Press half the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan until it’s uniform.
Spread the date mixture on top.
Crumble the rest of the oat mixture on top and smooth lightly.
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
Increase heat to 350 degrees adn bake 5 minutes longer or until the top is lightly browned.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Cut bars while they are still warm.