Classic, old-fashioned date squares just like Grandma made. Nice and thin, with the perfect balance of date filling to crumb!
1/2cupdried dateschopped and tightly packed to measure
1/2cupwhite granulated sugar
Base and topping:
3/4cup + 2 Tbsplarge flake, old-fashioned oats
3/4cupall purpose flour
1/2cuplight brown sugarpacked
6Tbspsalted buttercold, cut into 6 pieces
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend over the edges by an inch or so (to use as handles to lift out of the pan later on). *Alternately, you can double the ingredients and make in a 9x13-inch baking pan.
Make the date filling: Combine the dates, white sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine. Heat over medium heat, stirring regularly. Bring mixture just to a full boil. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Allow to cool almost completely before proceeding. (If you put hot filling over your flour/butter crumb, the butter will melt and change the texture of the base. It will cool more quickly if you remove from the saucepan to a bowl and stir or you can even pop into the fridge for a few minutes).
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour and light brown sugar. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry cutter, until the butter pieces are evenly pea-sized. (Alternately, use your fingertips to rub it into the flour mixture). In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and hot water until the soda is dissolved. Sprinkle over the flour/butter mixture and stir in.
Add about half of the flour mixture to your prepared baking pan. Pat into an even layer, adding a bit more of the flour mixture, as needed, to make a thin, even layer. *It doesn't need to be exact, but roughly 60% of the flour mixture on the bottom and 40% for the topping. Spoon the cooled date mixture over-top and spread out evenly. Scatter the remaining flour mixture evenly over-top.
Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until golden and set. Baking time should be similar for both an 8x8-inch pan or a 9x13-inch pan. Remove the pan from the oven to a cooling rack, allowing them to cool completely in the pan, before lifting out by the parchment "handles" to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch x 2-inch squares.
Store in an airtight container or freeze, for longer storage.
Be sure to read the Ingredient and Cook's Notes for more tips and substitution suggestions for this recipe.