Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Date Squares (I love these)

It's 35 degrees in Austin.  It's NEVER 35 degrees in Austin.  Cold days make me need to cook.  Not WANT to cook, I NEED to cook when it's cold.  I have certain things that I have loved forever and date squares are one of those things.  I don't make them NEARLY enough.  I intend on rectifying that very issue at this exact moment in time.

I have made this version of date squares forever.  I don't have the recipe written down anywhere, I measure loosely, it's entirely forgiving.  People who believe firmly that you can approximate when you cook yet you have to be scientific when you bake need to avert their eyes, this is a winging it recipe.  Add a bit more a bit less, it won't affect the final product and in fact, it'll personalize it for you.

Go make these, they are absolutely delicious and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into the final product.  It's in the oven as I type this, it's keeping me off the ledge while I wait.  By the way, you can make this with figs if you'd like as well, I linked this to my fig bars which is close but not quite.  This one is my favorite.

Tracy's Date Squares

1 8oz bag of chopped dates
1+ cup of liquid -> I use about 1/3 orange juice and 2/3 water to start with and add more as needed
1 scant tablespoon sugar
vanilla (as we know I use vanilla bean paste but you can use regular vanilla)
pinch salt

1 heaping cup a/p flour
1 heaping cup oats
1 scant cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 scant cup butter

Quickie instructions:
Cook dates in liquid until they are soft and most of the liquid is gone.  Add more liquid as it simmers if you need.
Mix dry base ingredients then mix in butter till crumbly.
Press half the Base mixture into a lined 8x8 pan.
Spread date filling on Base
Crumble (from a height) the remaining topping loosely on date filling and bake at 350 for 20-30 mins.
Cut into as few pieces as possible so you get the largest possible serving.

Long, commentary with pictures, version of instructions:

Put dates, sugar, vanilla, water, orange juice and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the dates are very soft and squishable against the bottom with a spatula.  I find I add extra water as they cook.  You want dark, thick and I like some texture.  I do whisk the mixture but there's pieces of dates still identifiable.  You can blend smoother if you prefer.  Leave the filling aside to cool down and assemble the base.

At a boil and some shots a few minutes later, you can see how much darker and thicker it gets
If your dates aren't "squishable" soft at this point, just add a little more water.  Once it's soft enough, I whisk it around to smooth it out a bit but you can see there's still date pieces.  That's a personal preference, smooth it with a blender if you need. Take it off heat and let it sit there until the crust is ready.  It doesn't have to be cold, room temperature or slightly warmer works just fine.
Spray a 8x8 and I put a strip of parchment on the bottom because I like to remove the whole thing in one piece.  Mix the dry ingredients for the Base and then blob the butter on top.
Mix with your fingertips until you get this beautifulness.  Tip half into the pan and press it flat.
Spread the filling on the base and top with the remaining crumble mixture, don't pat it down, we want it loose and lovely
Pop it into a 350 oven and bake until it's browned and set, about 30 minutes.Oh, see how the topping puffs and becomes one delicious piece.  Oh this is going to be good.
Ok, so I remove the date squares, in one piece, out of the pan after it's rested about 15 minutes and transfer it to a rack and leave it to cool completely then cut...the eat.
I hate the waiting.....so I didn't...
I ate it, warm


I love these.  Go make them, they are easy, delicious....and I am dying to hear what you think of my little version...I'll wait, maybe I'll have a warm date square while I wait...  mmmmmmm


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