Monday, October 19, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015

Date Bars, Redux and Reworked

When we moved to the Middle East twenty-seven years ago, we discovered that dates were the thing. I'm not sure I'd eaten a date before moving to Jordan. Not only were dried dates plentiful and inexpensive, I could purchase a 2 lb block of date paste for a couple dollars. Looking for ways to capitalize on local products, I began making date bars. Below is the recipe given to me in 1988 by a fellow language student. As you can see, it has been well-used...and/or I'm a messy baker!

And now dates are the thing in the US as well, with many new recipes calling for dried dates to replace refined sugars as a sweetener. I hadn't made date bars for awhile, but an email from a friend prompted me to re-visit this recipe. And, she informed me that 5 lbs chunks of date paste can be purchased in the the US as well. 

Remembering how much I liked date bars prompted me to re-work this recipe, making it a no-sugar, no-wheat flour recipe. It wasn't hard to do and the results, delicious.

A Better Date Bar

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2 3/4 cup rolled oats (I use quick oats as that is what is available here--works fine)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 lb of seedless dates (you can use pitted dates, but if you can get ahold of some date paste, your work will be easier.)
1 cup water

Cream butter and honey. Mix in the almond flour/meal and then stir in the rest of the dried ingredients to make the crumb bottom and top.

Heat dates and water in a saucepan for a few minutes to make a spreadable paste.

Press half the crumb mixture in a baking pan. Spread the date paste on top, and then top with the remaining crumb mixture. Bake for 1/2 hour at 350 F/175 C. Let cool before cutting.

Notate Bene:

--Once cooled, I like to store these in the refrigerator. The dates firm up and they hold together very nicely.

--I will try substituting date syrup for honey next time I make these. I imagine you could try other sugar substitutes besides.

--I used a mid-sized baking dish, approximately 8"x 10", but you could use a slightly larger one as well as the bars turned out plenty thick.

These date bars are very rich and you should probably eat just one at a time (yes, mom), but one looked lonely on the plate, so I added another for the picture. I'm working to build up a repertoire of no-sugar, no-wheat flour (or, gluten free) recipes for healthier Christmas treats, and this one will be the first on the list.