I have very fond memories of Date Squares from an early age. They were the first “grown-up” thing I started to order when I visited the local coffee shop, Granville’s, back in my hometown of Quesnel. The combination of an earthy oat layer, topped by a thick layer of naturally sweet dates and even more crunchy oats on top, is unbeatable. It’s a classic combination that’s delicious at any time of the year.
I’m not quite sure why they’re also recognized as Matrimonial Bars. After a quick Google search, it seems that the name is linked to old traditions of serving dried fruits and fruitcakes at weddings. According to Wikipedia, the Date Square in it’s current form, has it’s origins in Western Canada. Considering Nanaimo Bars were also developed on this side of the country, we must really have a sweet tooth over here!
I’ve been making this date square recipe for many years now. And it’s definitely ruined many a stale, coffee shop date square for me. You can continue to use the oat base and try adding different fruit fillings, but dates are my favourite.
It’s a forgiving recipe and doesn’t require too much baking expertise – just make sure the oat layer is mixed well enough so that it sticks together when you squeeze it between your hands. When you’re baking the square, you’ll know they’re done when you see the oats turning a beautiful golden hew and a nutty, sweet scent escapes from the oven.
Date squares are a perfect teatime treat anytime of the year and an excellent, healthier (just a bit) addition to your holiday baking.
- 1/2 pound chopped dates (250g roughly)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp grated orange rind (optional)
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1.5 cups oats
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp bakng powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
Combine filling ingredients, except juices, and cook until thick.
Add fruit juices after cooking. Allow filling to cool.
Set oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine crust ingredients and mix until crumbly. Wash hands well, and work butter in using fingers if necessary.
Pat 2/3 of mixture into a greased 9" square baking pan. Make sure it's firmly pressed into pan.
Spread filling and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.