Citrus-Date Whammy Bahs

Thanks P for the title inspiration.

I am currently in a place that is so hard to get to, you can’t buy a ticket. Let me describe it to you:

I am

1. Alone;

2. listening to my new favourite tune – Black Sands by Bonobo and thinking about the incredible film that it is the soundtrack to, and also imagining that one day I might get back onto a river with a paddle in my hand;

3. Smelling the spiciness of what I just baked, and enjoying the anticipation before biting into one*;

4. Alone.

aaaaahhhhhhhhh.

* update: smelled better than it tasted

It’s the weekend, which is a time full of kids, mess, fatigue, friends, dinners, dishes, playing outside, and of course, snacks. On Friday, I tried to prepare for the onslaught by making soups and snacks ahead of time so that I could spend the weekend enjoying Frida’s company instead of cooking. That was a mistake (aw, not totally. We did end up spending a minute or two outside with no tears – neither mine nor hers). But I did end up with some really yummy date squares, which I am going to share with all y’all. Virtually, of course.

Date squares make me happy cause they are full of dates, for one thing, which despite looking like cockroaches and being tooth-achingly, cloyingly sweet on their own, turn into a thing of beauty when simmered with some citrus. Paired with a crumbly, oaty crust, they become a small-hand-holdable, backpack-packable, cold-hardy, nutritious, calorie-laden winter snack. You can feel like you’re getting lots of good stuff when you eat one. And they go really well with strong black coffee.

Oh, and you can make towers with them.

This recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates had pleased me once before, but I had made a note in the margin saying that there was not enough date stuff for the amount of crust stuff. So I upped the dates here. And I omitted the walnuts in the crust, cause of that “allergy” of Ben’s. Also, I played around with the citrus addition, adding some zest to the crust before filling it and simmering the dates in OJ instead of water. I love the way the zippy orange and lemon play off the sweetness of the dates.

In a couple minutes, it’s my turn to go for a ski by myself, so I’ll keep this one brief. I’ll just let you find your zester and get on with this recipe.

Citrus-Date Whammy Bahs

Adapted wholeheartedly from”Spiced Coconut Date Bars” from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates by The Moosewood Collective

Makes 16, 2″ squares

3 cups pitted, chopped dates

1 cup orange juice

Zest of 1 medium orange, divided in 2 (the zest, not the orange)

Zest of 1 lemon, divided in 2 (ditto)

1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut

1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter, go on)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups spelt flour (or unbleached white, or half white half whole wheat, or whatever pleases you)

1 generous teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder (Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?)

1 cup rolled oats (quick oats preferably)

Optional: 1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8″ square glass baking pan.

2. Combine the dates and OJ in a pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the dates are soft. Add in half the orange and lemon zest along with the coconut and set aside.

3. While the dates are simmering, prepare the crust. Mix the oil or butter and the brown sugar in a large bowl or food processor. Add the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder, give it a stir, then add in the oats and mix till blended. The dough will be quite crumbly. Firmly pat about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the pan, working it up the sides too. Sprinkle the remaining orange and lemon zest over the bottom crust. [maybe you want walnuts? Add 1/2 cup toasted walnuts to the dough now.]

4. Spread the date mixture evenly over the bottom crust, and crumble the rest of the dough on top, patting it a bit (give it some love, you know?).

5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the topping is golden and dark brown around the edges. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares. These freeze well, but ours just about made it through the weekend – and then were gone. No freezer required.

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13 thoughts on “Citrus-Date Whammy Bahs

  1. Annie

    Uh oh, Holly… More for me to try! I shall modify it so it is gluten and dairy-free (using the veg oil, a gluten-free flour mix, and gluten-free oats) and will let you know how it turns out…

    As for pointing out that dates look like cockroaches, I am glad that someone else feels that! I told my friend that a couple of years ago and I have killed her love affair with dates that she used to have…

      1. Annie

        Nope – Rodney isn’t into sweets (!?!? I make up for him…). Oats are naturally GF but get contaminated in the processing process – Lara’s Pure Oats are GF. Check out http://www.themixcompany.com/ for great GF mixes – there are lots of cookie mixes that you can add choc chips to… I have never made the cookies but had great success with the yeast-free bread mixes and muffin mixes…

  2. Val

    How can you do that ? I mean, being alone… SVP donne-moi ton truc 🙂 Nice recipe, I’ll have to try it. Et je suis contente de voir ta dernière photo, car quand je vais voir la moitiée de la crust dans le fond de mon plat (car je sais que ça va arriver), je vais me sentir moins seule :))))) Ça m’a aussi fait penser que ça pourrait être bon d’utiliser du café pour faire gonfler les dattes, au lieu du jus d’orange (sans citron, bien sûr), ça pourrait être bon… Peut-être avec un peu de choco noir… I’ll let you know. How do you like my half french/anglais message ?? Bye Vxx

    1. Oh yum, good idea for the coffee…. For those of you who need a translation of the above comment, Val suggests using coffee instead of juice to cook the dates. She also suggests dark chocolate…. I would not go that far, but Val has like 18 huge bars of dark chocolate in her pantry from when it was on sale before xmas so I guess she’s trying to use it up.

  3. Sari

    only saw this recipe now. have been behind on my SFMS readings. I will make this recipe this weekend, and not only because it includes baking powder, though that is a big reason.
    no stairway to heaven

      1. Sari

        i honestly have no idea. the citrus made them whammy. they were so gooey, but so good. maybe i’ll take a pic and send for comparison.

  4. Annie

    Finally made these – quite tasty (and WHAMMY). I made them for the next-door neighbours who had parents visiting. Teo and I headed over with the bars and they were much enjoyed! I have to admit that I am not a major fan of date bars (because of the date’s resemblance to that invertebrate…), but I really enjoyed these! Success! Next step, to make them gluten-free… I shall keep you posted once I get around to doing that…

  5. Jane

    Woke up dreaming of date bars. Made these with extra dates and apple cider instead on orange juice. Skipped the citrus and spiced the crust like a pumpkin pie with cloves and nutmeg to go with the cinnamon. I would probably marry these bars if they had a firmer (snappy-er?) bottom crust and a little bit more sugar and budddder in the topping. Ate them with a spoon well before the 30 min cooling time was up…

  6. ejane. I am so happy you came HERE for your date bar recipe and that you modified it unabashedly. I think for the bottom crust you need more budder and shuger to make them snappier. I guess that’s the answer for the top crust too. Damn these “healthy” treats.
    I hope that your prompt action on the making of these bars prevented your dream from becoming a recurring one.

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