A few weeks ago I went a little crazy at the grocery store and somehow thought I might "need" a big box of dates. Huh. Well it's all good dates are good in oatmeal. But I think deep down I had a craving for date squares. I love those. Plus you don't even need a recipe just some simple guidelines. I remember making them a lot when I was baking at that coffee shop in Whistler. It's super easy! For these ones though I decided to make them a little more Christmas-sy and add candied fruit and apricots. And it worked really good!
Check this out. First off, cook the fruit:
2 cups dates 1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped 1/2 cup candied fruit mix 1/2 cup raisins
Put them all in a sauce pan and cover 3/4 with orange juice, add a teaspoon or 2 of brown sugar if you like really sweet things...:
Let them turn into this:
Meanwhile do the "crust":
2 cups oats 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour...) Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, about 1/2 tsp each. 1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled *you may need more butter, melt a little extra just in case...
For this part, just mix all the ingredients, butter last, and stir until it clumps together when you squeeze it:
If you feel like you need more butter or oats, adjust necessarily. Oh and by the way, that mix can be used for fruit crumbles...so too much is no biggie..! Oil-spray or butter a 8inch square pan and evenly press 2/3 of the crumb mix at the bottom. Spread the date mix (that has cooled a bit; really it takes about 10-15 minutes...watch it carefully though you don't want that sticky mess!!), evenly, and sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture on top.
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until golden, and if need be turn on the broiler for a few minutes for extra crisp!
Let it cool completely on a rack, cut and enjoy!
p.s. don't be impatient like I was and eat a piece 5 minutes after it was out of the oven.....holy burn...