Date squares are one of my favourite treats.
When my husband surprises me with something special, a date square is usually involved.
I sorta think date squares are a “grandma” dessert, but I don’t care.
I might have this belief because my grandma would always have a big stash of “squares,” as we called them, in her old creaky freezer. I don’t know how my grandma did it, but there was always an endless supply of treats tucked in there. My sister and I would always attempt to sneak sweets out of the freezer, but the EXTREMELY loud squeaks of the freezer surely gave us away, despite the fact that we thought we were being so stealth. I can just imagine the smirk across my grandma’s face each time we did this.
There is a bakery in the Corso Italia neighbourhood of Toronto that makes a whole wheat honey date square, which is where the inspiration for this recipe came from. It is my favourite that I have tried in the city, and it seems a little healthier by nature of the name, but I am certain it contains the same amount of rich ingredients as a regular date square.
The only downside to my love for date squares is the amount of butter that is often used to make them. I am not one to turn down a butter laden dessert on occasion, cause butter makes all things taste amazing, but there is something to be said for making things a little healthier at times…and then I don’t feel as bad for eating as much
So this is my attempt to recreate a healthier date square for me, and you, to enjoy.
I have nixed the butter, processed sugars and white flour. In there place I used vegan butter, honey and whole wheat flour. You could also use a neutral oil, maple syrup or a gluten free flour and probably have the same success, though I can’t say with certainty, so let me know if you try another variation.
I wish my grandma still had that old squeaky freezer so I could sneak some treats back in there for her. How great would it be if I could return the favour and refill her freezer treats, I would still try to do it incognito!
Cheers to grandmas and all they do to make the world a sweeter place.
- 3 cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 11/2 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp grated orange zest
- ½ vegan butter or neutral oil
- ½ cup honey
- 21/2 cups large flake oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
- In a medium sized pot, over medium high heat, place all filling ingredients, bring to a boil. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, till thick and smooth, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F, line bottom of 8x8 pan with parchment paper, crossways, so that the paper hangs over the edge of the pan on all sides.
- Combine oats, flour, salt, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Stir in butter (or oil) and honey to combine. If the crumble mixture seems too dry, just add a little bit of the date filling to help it come together.
- Press half of the crumble into the bottom of prepared pan. Spread date filling over base and top with remaining crumble, pressing gently. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top of crumble begins to brown. Let cool before cutting into squares.
Do you have a favourite dessert that your grandma makes? or used to make?