It’s been the week of salads. Lots of lentils, baby kale, arugula, and roasted vegetables. It’s what I craved and needed after a weekend revolving around cheese, bread, and wine. Let’s go the whole week! We felt great. Still, by Wednesday night, I craved a little something more. I wanted something simple and crumbly. I had my eye on Noelle’s date bars.
I took a break from my book and called Danny.
Me: I’m kind of in the mood to bake something. I was thinking date bars.
Danny: Oh, yeah, that sounds perfect. Make date bars.
Done deal. I pitted the luscious, soft dates, and a few hours later, our place was fragrant with the smell of cinnamon and butter melting into oats. These earlier nights are so much cozier when there’s something sweet baking in the oven. It was perfect.
Noelle reduced the sugar in part of her adaptation, and it’s a good move. These date bars don’t need to be any sweeter. I used an 8-inch by 5-inch pan because it’s what I had around, and it worked out fine.
These date bars are great for breakfast with coffee. We also really liked them for dessert with vanilla ice cream. Next time I’ll try adding some chopped walnuts in with the oats, just to change it up.
These sweet and fragrant little bars are perfect with a cup of coffee or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Your choice, though I promise you can’t go wrong.
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups fresh Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, cold and cubed
Bring water to a boil. Stir in the dates and lemon juice and let simmer until thick and glossy, 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t worry if it takes a bit longer. Let the date mixture cool before stirring in the vanilla.
Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Heat oven to 350°F. Mix the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the cold butter, rubbing it in until it breaks down into smaller clumps throughout the mixture.
Lightly press half of the mixture into the bottom of an an 8-inch by 8 -inch pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the date mixture evenly to cover the oat and flour mixture (a rubber spatula helps). Sprinkle the rest of the crust over the date mixture. Bake until golden brown and the center sets, 30 to 40 minutes. Let the date bars cool in the pan, and then cut them into squares. Serve with coffee or vanilla ice cream.
Store bars in plastic wrap up to a few days.