It has been brought to my attention that I am prone to experience over the top excitement far more than the average person. Sunshine, dance parties, strenuous workouts, kisses, and movie nights all tend to evoke the same reaction from me. Life is filled with so many beautiful and wonderful things, I just can't help myself.
I'm going to share some of this excitement with you today in the form of a totally unfussy and unpretentious date bar that will win over just about anyone, including yourself. Uh huh.
Before I get started here, we need to have a serious talk. Some people seem to be ridiculously scared of dates, or dried fruit in general. I'll admit that I do my best to avoid raisins at any cost, but dates, I swear are the most lovely little things on the planet. Do you realize that dates quite literally melt and become caramel when they are left to mingle on the stove in a pot of water? I don't think I need to say much else on the subject, because I am fairly certain everyone on the planet loves caramel. And if you don't like caramel, what is wrong with you?
Now that we've settled that, how do you feel about Valentines day?
I feel like it's in style for everyone to loath this day and complain about it as much as possible. Is it silly to have a day dedicated to roses, candy, and love? Are you kidding me, no! Roses AND candy AND romance... OH BABY! Is it ridiculous to have a day devoted to reminding those we love that we still love them, even though it's February 14? Okay, perhaps a little. But these date bars make a really lovely Valentines day treat. Not too over-the-top, which is great cause no one wants to seem too overeager these days, but ridiculously delicious... the kind of date (bar) you'd bring home to meet your mother. Ha!
Oh, I know what some of you are thinking.
You are thinking, "Whatever. I'm allergic to roses, candy is bad for my teeth, and my love broke my heart into a million pieces."
Fair enough. But hey,
you owe it to yourself to be excited every now and then.
These date bars, humble as they seem, are worth getting excited about. I promise.
Classic Date Bars
Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2004
I returned home the other day to find that my sweet-souled sister had whipped up a batch of date bars, I was pretty dang happy. My happiness skyrocketed (it's possible, apparently) upon first bite when I realized that they were hands down the best date bars I have ever eaten. Ever. They were comforting, with a hint of cinnamon, slightly crumbly, and terribly moist. I've had my fair share of date bars. I'm telling you people, these are the real deal!
Thanks Em, for introducing me to these!
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 chopped pitted dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 8x8-inch metal baking pan. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in medium saucepan. Add dates; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.
Combine flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl; stir to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps form. Press half of oat mixture (firmly!!) evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture over. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture; press gently to adhere. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 minutes. Cool completely on rack. Cut into bars and serve.
Yield: makes about 16 bars