Sweet and homey date squares are one of my favourite comfort foods. The base and crumble topping for these bars is a simple blend of flour, oats, brown sugar and butter. Sandwiched between these layers is a thick and rich date filling. I like to flavour the filling with just a splash of vanilla extract and a little cinnamon…you can also add some grated orange zest to the filling if you like.
For the base and topping:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8×12 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- First, prepare the base and topping: in a bowl, stir together the flour, oats, salt, baking soda and sugar.
- Use a pastry cutter –or your fingers–to mix in the butter until crumbly. Press half the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the date filling.
- For the filling: in a saucepan stir together the dates, water, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon juice and baking soda. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes, until the dates are softened and falling apart. Make sure to stir the date filling constantly while it cooks.
- Spread the filling onto the prepared base and sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.