Date Squares are a Canadian ‘Golden Oldie’ (circa 1933) … but they are still a regular at modern coffee shops.
Date Squares are also known as Matrimonial Cake …
…and it just happens to be husband Art’s favourite dessert square.
… and so, in preparation for Valentine’s Day, it seemed appropriate to add it to the menu.
There are varying reports as to the precise origin of the name .. .. I’m making the assumption that is has something to do with two separate layers being brought together by a bunch of dates …sounds like matrimony…
Both of us grew up with Date Squares – both of our mothers had a recipe for Date Squares in their collection …it was a regular on the dessert platter.
- In our house, the filling MUST be as thick … or thicker …than the crust.
But, if you prefer a thinner crust and filling, you can either reduce the amount of dates in the filling to 2 cups, or, you can make the squares in a bigger pan (9 x 13).
- The crust must be buttery and beautiful enough to eat on its own…
- To make this an even more delicious dessert, top off the square with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
Prep Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 12-15 squares
1 1/2 pkg (375 g/pkg) chopped pitted dates (about 3 cups)
1 1/4 cup (310 mL) water
1/3 cup (85 mL) brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30 L) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon (15 mL) unsalted butter
Crust and Topping:
2 cups (500 mL) oatmeal flakes (not instant)
300 g (2 cups) all purpose flour
1 cup (210 g) hard-packed golden/light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 mL) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
285 g (10 ounces or 2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
- Prepare Filling: In a saucepan, place the chopped pitted dates. Add the water and slowly cook over low-medium heat until dates soften and the mixture thickens. Add brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Continue to cook until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in butter, and allow to cool to room temperature while the crust is being prepared. The mixture can be pureed, if desired (or use a potato masher or spatula to break up larger pieces of dates, if necessary).
- Prepare crust and topping: Preheat oven to 350 0F (180 0C ). Line a 9 x 9 or 10 x 10 pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Cut in the butter, and sprinkle in the vanilla, with a fork or your hands until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Alternatively, place the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until combined. Gradually add the butter and vanilla to the bowl, pulsing until coarse crumbs are created.
- Evenly press half of the crumb mixture to make a crust into the prepared pan. Add the date mixture. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over date mixture, pressing down very lightly.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.
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