Dates are a really nutricious and sweet (average date only 23 calories) snack food and baking ingredient. Here’s a date & pecan bar recipe that still has them talking at church (made dessert for 50) and work (took the leftovers in to nourish the troops).
- 1.5 cups chopped dates
- 1/4 sugar
- 3/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Wet stuff
- 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- Dry stuff
- 1 1/2 cups oats
- 1/2 cup all-purpose (AP) flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 400º. Get an 8×8 baking dish ready. no greasing necessary. Double all ingredients if you need to make a big batch, and use a 9×13 baking dish.
- To make the filling, start by chopping the dates into 1/4″ pieces. This is messy, but don’t worry that the pieces will all be sticking together.
- Place dates, water and sugar in suace pan. Heat on medium to boil, stirring to combine. Stir every minute or so. Cook for 10 minutes to evaporate most of the water.
- Remove from heat. Let cool for 15 minutes or so. Add pecans. Mix until evenly combined with dates.
- To make the crust, start (while the dates are cooking – in between stirs) to assemble the dry ingredients in a bowl and soften the butter in a bowl in the microwave.
- Let the butter cool down for 5-10 minutes before adding the brown sugar. With a fork, or better, a whisk, stir vigorously until smooth and even in texture with little or no liquid visible.
- Now, add the wet to the dry…or the dry to the wet. It doesn’t matter. Which one is in the larger bowl?? Keep mixing until all the oats are at least a little moist. It’s OK if there are still some small sugar-butter lumps.
- Spread a little more than half of the crust mixture evenly in the baking dish. Pat it down with your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass.
- Now spread the entire filling mixture evenly on top of the bottom crust.
- Finally, distribute the rest of the crust on top of the filling. Don’t worry about patting it down, just spread evenly. You probably won’t be able to see any of the filling showing through.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. After 25 minutes, check to see if the top crust has become slightly browned. If you think it needs more, check every 2-3 minutes until it looks browned , but not black anywhere. If you’re using a glass baking dish, you may notice that the filling layer looks black. That’s OK.
- Remove from oven. Cool dish on a rack to let air underneath. Wait as long as you can stand it cut a sample. The longer you wait, the easy to cut. Cut into 16 pieces (4 pieces by 4 pieces). They may look small, not not to worry. These bars are very rich and one will seem like a suitable portion, although it may take eseveral, eaten at intervals, to really get the full treatment.