Saturday, February 23, 2013

Date bars

Date Bars

I have a sweet tooth.  I grew up eating cake for breakfast, cookies and ice cream for dinner and chocolate in between.  Despite my horrible diet growing up, I ended up studying Food and Nutrition in college, and became a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Nutrition.  I still like sweets, but I try to balance it with good, real food.   When our boys were growing up, I always had some sort of dessert, usually cookies or cake, and even now, when they come home to visit, a cake is waiting.  Is there any other way to celebrate than with a home made cake?  The boys, however, seem to have MUCH better control than me when it comes to sweets.  Our oldest son does not eat chocolate, our middle son says most sweets ‘make his teeth hurt’ and our youngest son has so much control over eating sweets that he still has Easter candy at Halloween and Halloween candy at Easter.  Even now, when I send a ‘care package’ the cookies and candies are rationed out like we are in the midst of a famine.  Where did these children come from?  So recently, I was rattling around the kitchen, just itching to make some cupcakes, or brownies or a cake, and my tasting partner said no.  No, we don't need that in the house.  Well, I still needed some sort of sweet, and I hit upon these date bars.  I usually have medjool dates around for snacks and oatmeal is a whole grain, so date bars have to be healthy, right?  My tasting partner thinks these are an acceptable snack and they are almost as good as a chocolate chip cookie, but not quite.

recipe after the jump

Date Bars

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups 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 or prepare pan with parchment paper.

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in medium saucepan. Add dates; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally to break up the date pieces, about 15 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 or a fork, rub in until moist clumps form. Press half of oat mixture 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 in pan on rack. Cut into bars and serve.

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