These date bars are my mother’s recipe. She got it from a cookbook on bars and cakes, though I’ve no idea its name. They have to be my all-time favorite dessert that she makes: I like these even more than her celebrated homemade cream puffs or Italian Christmas cookies. Last year, she mailed me a care package for the holidays that included a small container of date bars. Yum! They got a bit mashed up in the post but it hardly mattered.
Whenever she makes them, I feel young. Though the funny thing is that we never ate these when I was a child. I don’t think that she discovered this amazing recipe herself until I had already left home for good. Yet, I feel that they’re part of my entire culinary life back to my earliest memories. Strange how the mind works. I know it isn’t true yet I cannot help believing we’ve always enjoyed these date bars in my family. Could this be what initially attracted my father to my mother? Hmmm…
Maybe not, but if the quantum physics people are right, perhaps that’s exactly what happened in some alternate universe.
It’s nice to dream.
Medjool date bars with almonds
1½ lbs Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup sugar
¼ plus ¼ tsp salt
½ cup sliced almonds
1½ cups flour
1½ cups rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
12 tbsp butter
Add dates, sugar, ¼ tsp salt and orange juice to a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for five minutes, covered, until the fruit softens and forms a thick paste. Set aside.
Grease and flour a medium baking dish—mine was an oval one about 9 by 14 inches. The original recipe calls for 9” by 9”. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Mix flour, oats, remaining salt, and brown sugar together. I used my food processor with the dough blade. Roughly chop butter and process into dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form. Press half of oat mix into base of baking dish. Cover with cooked dates. Top with remaining oat mix. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until the crust slightly browns. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Cut into bars.