Date squares

19 Dec

date squares

Each December I faithfully reproduce the traditional family Christmas baking, and each year the ghost of Christmas past haunts my efforts.

The shortbread, cherry slice, butterscotch fudge and nanaimo bars are never as good as I remember them tasting in my childhood.

The only exception to this slightly depressing state of affairs are the date squares. I am pretty confident that my date squares are a whole lot better than any I grew up eating.

I credit the quality of dates, orange zest and using butter instead of margarine.

And the Grand Marnier doesn’t hurt either…;-)

Date squares

  • 450g pitted dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • a splash of Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the dates, water, orange juice, orange zest and lemon juice.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the dates are soft and the liquid absorbed. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla (and Grand Marnier, if using) and leave to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  4. To make the base and topping, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Stir in the oatmeal and brown sugar, then work in the butter.
  5. Spread half the oatmeal mixture in the bottom of a 9″x9″ baking tin, and pat down until firm.
  6. Spread the date filling evenly on top, then cover with the remaining oatmeal mixture, carefully pressing into place.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and set.

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