These classic Date Squares (aka date bar recipe) will quickly become a household favorite -unsweetened Medjool dates sandwiched between layers of oat crumble. Old-fashioned goodness in every bite.
Mother’s Day – it’s complicated, isn’t it?
North American tradition will dictate that the second Sunday of the month of May is Mother’s Day. A day set aside to honor mothers and motherhood, and to think of our mothers and children, and the experiences we’ve had with them, what could have been, what should have been…
For so many of us, Mother’s Day brings a lot of joy and cause for celebration. Unfortunately, there are also so many women that experience a sense of sadness and loss on this day.
I came to this understanding in the weeks that followed my mother’s passing. Having lost my mom at an age that I considered too young… I can honestly say that today, I am in a place of acceptance and gratitude.
But I had my moments of anger and sadness and the textbook stages of dealing with grief. This was especially true the first Mother’s Day without my mom.
My mom was the kind of mom that Hallmark would make cards about – kind, compassionate, thoughtful, selfless, supportive, and unconditionally loving. I felt very privileged for having had such a wonderful mother, and for having had such a wonderful relationship with her.
When she passed, friends and family came together to tell me how my mother had supported them through their own journeys… guided them through the difficult issues concerning their own mothers and motherhood. It just solidified my belief that my mom was truly a special woman.
It was difficult to face each day without my mother at first. I lost my best friend.
But today, I’ve come to appreciate and better understand that healing is a process. Somehow this process becomes easier if we have faith in it and acknowledge it.
Always striving to be in a place of gratitude and not taking relationships for granted is the work that needs to be done everyday… for some of us it’s easy… for others, it’s a little bit more of a struggle.
Mother’s Day… don’t be so hard on yourself. My message is to acknowledge and bring a sense of encouragement to those that find Mother’s Day challenging.
My beautiful daughter asked me why I chose this recipe for a Mother’s Day post. Isn’t that a great question? I thought I would share my answer with all of you just in case any of you were wondering the same thing.
For starters, my mom loved this recipe.
We would often sit and chat while having a cup of coffee with these squares, and those are memories I cherish very much.
This recipe also conjures up visions of old-fashioned goodness and innocence. It has a timeless dimension to it.
I can imagine a grandmother, lovingly making this classic dessert for her grandchildren (and of course, her own adult kids).
I love the simplicity of this recipe. There are so few ingredients, and they come together so easily.
Allow me to demonstrate.
How to Make Date Squares:
There are two parts to this date square recipe: the date filling and the oat crumble mixture.
The date filling:
In a medium sized saucepan, combine the chopped dates (1 pound), water (1 cup), lemon juice (2 tablespoons), zest of half a lemon, and cornstarch (1 teaspoon).
Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Notice the date mixture thickening as the water is absorbed. There is no need to puree the mixture.
Set the mixture aside to cool off.
The oat crumble mixture:
In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats (1½ cups), all purpose flour (1¼ cups), brown sugar (3/4 cups), baking soda (½ teaspoon) and a pinch of salt. Combine thoroughly together.
Grate the butter (2/3 cup) using the large holes of a box grater and incorporate in the oat mixture with your finger tips.
Although the mixture is extremely crumbly, it will stick when pressed together (see video for demonstration).
At this point it’s just a matter of layering both mixtures.
Place about two thirds of the oat mixture in the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan (sprayed with non stick vegetable spray) and press lightly with a heavy bottomed glass.
Bake in a preheated oven (350°F /175°C) for about 5-8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and spread the date mixture evenly over the bottom crust.
Distribute the rest of the oat mixture evenly over the top of the date mixture. Press down lightly with your fingertips.
Bake for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on wire rack and allow to cool down completely before cutting.
Tips, Tricks and Recipe Notes:
Can the recipe be made in a 9 x 9 pan?
Yes! The end result will be a thinner date bar but equally delicious.
Can this recipe be frozen?
Yes! Although they can be kept in the fridge for up to one week, they can easily be frozen. Best to cut into larger squares (4 x 4 inches), wrap properly in plastic cling wrap and freeze.
Date Recipes we love:
Origin of the Recipe for Easy Classic Date Squares:
I found the inspiration for this recipe in the food section of the newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen. This one dates back to 2006. I have made my usual changes to the recipe – I eliminated all the brown sugar in the date filling, since dates are sweet enough, and I decreased the amount of salt.
This date bar recipe is the perfect dessert any time of the year.
I would like to bring your attention to the tray. I borrowed it from my sister. She inherited the tray from her mother-in-law. Such a perfect match for this recipe. Don’t you think?
As a final thought, I would like to dedicate this post to my mom and to my sister’s mother-in-law.
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made these Date Oat Bars, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
- 1 pound Medjool dates 500 grams, pit removed, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of half a lemon
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats regular or quick oats
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 175 grams
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter
To make the date filling:
- Combine the dates, water, lemon juice, zest and cornstarch in a medium sized saucepan.
- Cook on very low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool down.
To make the oat crumble:
- Combine all the dry ingredients together except the butter.
- Grate the butter over the dry mixture.
- With your hands, incorporate the butter in the oat crumble mixture.
- The dough should be crumbly, but if you squeeze it together, it should hold its’ shape.
To make the date squares:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Spray an 8 x 8 square pan with non-stick vegetable spray.
- Press about 2/3 of the total oat crumble mixture at the bottom of a square pan. press lightly with a heavy bottomed glass.
- Bake in oven for about 5-8 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Spread the date filling over the base.
- Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top of the date filling. Press lightly with fingertips.
- Bake in a preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.
- Set pan on wire rack. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.
This post was originally published on May 1, 2016 and republished on May 4, 2019 with updated content, photos and a video. Thanks for watching and sharing!
Easy and super tasty
Thanks so much Tracey!
I have read that grief doesn’t go away, it just changes. Same with the loss of my mother nearly 50 years ago. Hope your grief changes as well. But these date bars were a favorite of my dad who passed just 12 years ago. I will make them and raise a piece to him. Thank you for the memories and the tears.
Thanks so much for your kind words Kathryn. Yes, it has changed… I still have my moments but I am in a place of gratitude and appreciation. There really is so much to be grateful for, every single day. Food memories are powerful… Sending you hugs ♥
I did tear up at your lovely reflections, it’s powerful and I’m grateful that there are wonderful women out there who can be those Hallmark mothers <3 I did not have one of them but I miss my mother and I miss what we never had. Mother's Day coming up has caused me anxiety for sure, holidays are challenging but I'm comforted by your beautiful story.
I have a question about the recipe. You mentioned that you removed the brown sugar in your rendition and reduced the salt but the recipe still has brown sugar and I assume the pinch is your reduction 😉 I'd appreciate a clarification before I give these a try from the opposite side of the continent, California.
Thanks so much for your kind words Donna ♥
The original recipe also included brown sugar with the dates. Needless to say, this made the date filling really sweet and totally unnecessary, in my humble opinion. Yes, I reduced the salt to a pinch.
Great comment, thanks for taking the time to share. Sending you lots of hugs… all the way to the west coast.
Thank you for sharing this post, I love dates and I must try this recipe .
My pleasure! Yes, I agree, I also love dates! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Betty Ann Quirino
I love the ease of this recipe. Plus I have all the ingredients in my kitchen right now. Must try this. Thanks for sharing!
Wow, I am trying not to cry as I read this. I do know how you feel. Though my mom has been gone for 20 years I still find that sometimes something small will just trigger a 5 second cry at her loss. I often think of what it would have been like if my mom were still alive. She never knew me as a wife and mother. I think we would have many days talking over date squares about our lives. I like to think we would have many things in common and would have surpassed the mother daughter thing and become more like friends. Oh well. Lovely post and delicious recipe. This would be a recipe my mother would have adored. (me too!)
Thanks Denise. Aren’t we lucky that we have the privilege to be a mom… and that we had wonderful moms. This recipe always makes it to my gift-giving treats for Christmas and family get togethers. Thanks so much for dropping by 🙂
Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm
Thank you for sharing your story. This is my first Mother’s day without my Mom and I have a double whammy because my Mother in Law passed away one month and one day after my Mom. The pain is real. That being said I am so glad you posted these wonderful bars along with the memories of your Mom. I think I would have a hard time returning that incredibly beautiful platter.
Wendy, I am truly sorry for your losses… I can only imagine what you are going through… we must draw our strength in the wonderful memories.
Your comment on the tray brought a silly grin to my face…appreciate you dropping by 🙂
Your date squares look wonderful and you’re right, they do have a timeless, old-fashioned appeal. I like the idea of the lemon juice and zest in the filling too -it must add a nice balance.
Thanks Lynne. I just love dates! Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂
These look so tasty. How lucky that you had such a wonderful mom and have such warm memories.
Thanks Eileen. And thank-you for dropping by 🙂
What a beautiful post…I’m so sorry for your loss. Hopefully recipes like this will help you fill the void and be closer to her. They look amazing!
Thanks Monica. Appreciate you dropping by 🙂