Most of us who live in North America will have a “Gramma’s Date Squares” recipe tucked into our family cookbook files. (For Australians who visit this blog, it might be a “Date Slice” recipe.)
In North American homes and homestyle restaurants large gooey date squares are commonly served as a super sweet special treat. Just the thought of date squares makes some of us harken back to the days when Betty Crocker ruled the kitchen and we didn’t know enough about nutrition to care whether or not her “Date Bars” were good for us.
This is not gramma’s date squares recipe.
This is a slightly healthier, modern alternative. Not über healthy — just dairy free and lower in sugar (zero refined sugar) so these squares still taste and feels like gramma’s (maybe even better!) but these can be enjoyed with less guilt — especially when we cut them into smaller squares than grandma did.
Why are these NOT Gramma’s Date Squares?
- This is a THERMOMIX date squares recipe, made with a modern kitchen appliance that my grandma didn’t have when making date squares. (Today many grandmothers around the world use Thermomix, but my own and my children’s Grandmas were born too early to enjoy having a Thermomix in their kitchens.)
- Grandma added a lot of sugar — to the base, filling, and crumble topping. But this date squares recipe does not use refined sugar, nor does it add sugar or any other sweetener to the thick layer of naturally-sweet date filling.
- These date squares are made with coconut oil instead of butter. According to some, this makes them healthier. According to me, it adds a yummy, nutty depth of flavour.
- When we cut these into 3cm x 3cm squares they are 75% smaller than Gramma’s date squares used to be (sugary and huge, at 6cm x 6cm)… Perfect with a hot drink they are about two bites big but we can reach for seconds or third helpings while still feeling virtuous ;-)
Note: numbered steps in photo at right
are a guideline only and do not correspond
with recipe steps below.
- 140 g. (4.9 oz) all-purpose, plain flour
- 20 g. (0.7 oz) corn starch (cornflour in Australia)
- 140 g. (4.9 oz) oats (rolled oats or quick-cook oat flakes)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. baking soda
- 280 g. (9.9 oz) coconut palm sugar (Rapadura, organic raw cane sugar)
- 150 g. (5.3 oz) coconut oil (does not need to be melted)
- 340 g. (12 oz) pitted dates
- 220 g. (7.8 oz) water
- zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC (350F).
- Mix flour and corn starch for 6 seconds/speed 6.
- Add oats, salt, sugar, baking soda, mix for 5 seconds/speed 4. (If using quick-cook oats, do this step using REVERSE instead)
- Add coconut oil and mix 40 seconds/speed 5/REVERSE or until mixture begins holding together.
- Divide oat mixture in half. Set aside one half for the crumble topping. Line a square (21cm x 21cm) cake pan with baking parchment. Press half the oat mix firmly into the pan and bake 15 minutes until golden.
- As oat layer pre-bakes, you can prepare the filling: Put the lemon zest into Thermomix, add dates and water, and cook it for 7 minutes/Varoma/speed 1 with measuring cap off.
- Add lemon juice and mix 5 seconds/speed 3.
- Spread date layer over the pre-baked oat base and add remaining crumbly oat mixture over top. Lightly press crumb topping into the date mixture and bake for 25 minutes.