Canadian date squares are a sweet treat made of cooked dates and a crumbly oatmeal topping. They are commonly enjoyed with a cup of coffee or as a snack food. Date squares can easily be made gluten-free. They are snapped up in a flash at every gathering I bring them to.
Given how close we are to the Canadian border and how popular these are in coffee shops throughout Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, I’m surprised more people haven’t heard of them. Well, I’m happy to introduce them to you and guarantee you’ll love them. Dates are easily found in your local grocery store. They are a dried sweet fruit. I often find Medjool Dates tucked in packages by the produce department. If your produce department has a section for dried fruit, nuts, croutons and other accompaniments to salads, you may find them there.
Medjool Dates are packed full of vitamins and minerals. There are many health benefits to dates. They are said to aid digestion, boost metabolism, reduce cholesterol and strengthen bones (just to name a few). They are almost a miracle fruit. So, even though these date squares are a sweet treat, don’t feel bad about indulging in them along with your morning coffee. They will give you plenty of energy to start the day. Dates have a small pit inside them that easily comes out as you slice into the date. You’ll want to remove the pits in the dates used in this recipe.
How and why the date square became a truly beloved Canadian recipe is somewhat unknown. Its origins are debated and thought to have Scottish, Irish or even French origins. Any of which could be possible given early settlers in Canada came from these areas of Europe. One thing is clear, the date square is known all across the country and is thought to be uniquely Canadian. Date squares are also known as matrimonial bars or date crumbles depending on which coast you are on.
This is the traditional recipe for Canadian date squares. But I have been known to change it up every now and then by adding in dried cranberries or spiced apple. Both fruits taste great with the dates. View this alternative recipe for these variations. If you’re in the mood for a sweet but healthy treat, give Canadian date squares a try. Leave me a comment below about your thoughts and experiences with this recipe.
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Date squares are a sweet treat made of cooked dates and a crumbly topping. They are commonly enjoyed with a cup of coffee or as a snack food.
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 lb pitted dates (12 oz package) chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp honey
- juice of half a medium-sized lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
To make the crumble, in a large bowl combine the oats, flour, salt, baking soda and brown sugar. Mix in the butter until crumbly. I usually use a pastry cutter or two butter knives to do this. You can use a food processor for this also, just be sure not to over process. Press half of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the 9 inch square baking pan.
To make the date filling, in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the dates, water and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Use a spoon to help break up the dates. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Spread the filling over the crumble base. Then add the remaining crumble mixture on top. Pat lightly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The top should look lightly golden. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
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