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This recipe was originally published on November 24, 2017.
Date squares are a popular dessert in Canada, especially at Christmastime. Everyone loves the thick layer of date filling and the crunchy oat topping and base. You won’t be disappointed with this simple, comforting treat!
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What are date squares?
Date squares are a layer of cooked dates sandwiched between two layers of oatmeal crumble, then baked until golden. They are cut in small squares and typically served with coffee or other cookies and bars.
Where did date squares originate?
Date squares undoubtedly originated in Canada, although it’s not clear whether they came from Newfoundland, Quebec, or some other province. Scottish, Irish, or even French Canadian cuisines may have influenced the creation of date squares. This tasty treat has been popular for many decades throughout Canada, and can be known as date squares, matrimonial cake, or date crumbles.
Are date squares healthy?
Date squares are often considered to be a healthier dessert, but they still contain a lot of sugar and butter. If you’re trying to make healthier substitutions, feel free to cut down the sugar a little. Don’t cut down the butter, however, or the crumble topping will be too dry.
When to Cut Date Squares
It’s best to cut date squares after they have cooled for about 45 minutes. If you cut in too soon, they won’t cut very nicely. For a cleaner cut, you can even chill the cooled bars in the fridge for a couple hours.
Why are my date squares crumbly?
Date squares are dry and crumbly when not enough butter is added to the oatmeal crumble. My recipe uses 3/4 cup of butter (172g), which is just enough to hold the crumble together and keep it moist. If your crumble seems too dry, just add a few extra pieces of butter and mix it in until the crumble is moist and clumpy.
How to Store Date Squares
Keep date squares in an airtight container or cookie tin at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you live in a hot climate, refrigerate the bars for up to 7 days.
How long will date squares keep?
Date squares will keep for 3 days at room temperature, 1 week in the fridge, and up to 3 months in the freezer.
Can date squares be frozen?
Yes, you can definitely freeze date squares–they keep exceptionally well in the freezer, and defrost quickly. Simply seal the squares inside of a zip-top freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature for an hour or two.
How to Make Date Squares
Gather the ingredients for the date filling. You’ll need chopped dates, water, brown sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thickened. Spread the mix in a flat dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool it.
Gather the ingredients for the oatmeal crumble. You’ll need all-purpose flour, old-fashioned rolled oats, brown sugar, unsalted butter, cinnamon, and baking soda.
Mix all the crumble ingredients together until everything is well combined and the mixture forms clumps.
Lightly butter an 8×8-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Pack half of the oatmeal crumble into the pan.
Spread the cooled date filling on top, making sure to get all the way to the edges.
Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture on top of the dates. Lightly pack down the layers with your hand.
Bake at 375 F for 35 minutes, until the topping is browned. Let it cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes.
Once the squares have cooled for at least 45 minutes, carefully cut them into individual pieces with a sharp knife. Enjoy!
Pro Tips for Making Date Squares
- Let the date filling cool before assembling the bars. Otherwise, it will melt the butter in the crumble, making the bars greasy.
- Tightly pack the oatmeal crumble. This helps hold the bars together, making them more sturdy when baked and sliced.
- In a hurry? Cook the date filling and mix up the oatmeal crumble up to 3 days in advance, or bake the bars completely and freeze.
- Line the pan with parchment paper. This keeps the pan from getting scratched by the knife, and makes it easy to lift the bars out of the pan.
- Allow the bars to cool before slicing. If they are sliced when hot, they will not cut cleanly. You can even chill the bars before slicing for a cleaner cut.
Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Making Date Squares
- Emeril Lagasse 2-Quart Saucepan: this heavy-bottomed pot is great for cooking the date filling.
- Set of 3 Silicone Spatulas: with these spatulas, you can effortlessly scrape out every bit of food from bowls and jars.
- 8×8 Metal Cake Pan: this sturdy, versatile pan is perfect for baking cakes and making bars.
- Parchment Paper: keeps your pan free from scratches and makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan.
- Chopped Dates: this is the most important ingredient in these tasty bars!
Satisfy your sweet tooth with these other delicious bars.
- Nanaimo Bars: this decadent Canadian treat has layers of a coconut base, vanilla filling, and chocolate topping.
- Caramel Pecan Bars: gooey caramel, rich toasted nuts, and buttery shortbread make these bars irresistible.
- Millionaire’s Shortbread: feel extra posh with these delicious chocolate, caramel, and shortbread bars.
The pleasure of a 5-star review for these date squares would be greatly appreciated.Print
Date squares are an authentic, old fashioned Canadian dessert. This moist layered treat is made from dates and an oatmeal crumble. Make this easy dessert for kids or adults—it’s sure to be a hit!
For the Date Filling
- 2 1/2 cups chopped dates (370g)
- 1 1/4 cups filtered water (300 ml)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed (54g)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon (45 ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 ml)
For the Oatmeal Crumble
- 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (190g)
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (160g)
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed (200g)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (172g)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Stir together the dates, brown sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. Spoon the mixture into a flat dish and place in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Mix together all the oatmeal crumble ingredients with your hands until well combined. Small clumps of the mixture should hold together.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch cake pan with butter, then line the base and sides with parchment paper.
- Firmly pack half of the oat mixture into the bottom of the pan, then evenly spread on the date filling. Top with the remaining oat mixture, then pack it down again.
- Bake at 375 F for 35 minutes, until the topping is browned. Let the squares cool in the pan for at least 45 minutes.
- Lift the squares out of the pan by grasping the parchment paper. Carefully slice the dates into squares with a sharp knife and serve.
- Make this recipe perfectly the first time. Check out the step-by-step photos and pro tips before the recipe card.
- The pleasure of a 5-star review for this classic date square recipe would be greatly appreciated.
- 👩🏻🍳 Want to see our latest recipes? Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Canadian
Keywords: healthy date bars, date squares