I love Greg Patent’s cookbook, Baking in America: Traditional and Contemporary Favorites from the Past 200 Years. I made a recipe for maple date bars with lemon zest just a few days ago, but tomorrow I am going to make the recipe below. Not only does it call for the zest of a whole orange, but also the juice from the orange as well. (The lemon recipe only called for the zest.) Since the other recipe was delicious, this one – with the inclusion of fresh orange juice – maybe even better. I used maple syrup in the last recipe since I don’t eat refined sugar. I also used maple sugar in place of regular sugar. I will do the same tomorrow and will let you know how it turns out. I expect it will be yummy.
I am including a picture of these bars from a post from Greg Patent’s website, which can be found at http://www.thebakingwizard.com/date-bars/.
Again, I highly recommend his cookbook. It is one of the best I’ve seen for a wide range of delectable recipes.
Oatmeal Date Bars
12 ounces moist pitted dried dates, preferably Medjool, cut into
small pieces (do not use packaged chopped dates; they are of
1/3 cup sugar (or substitute the same amount of pure maple syrup)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange + enough water to come to 3/4 cup
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spooned into the cup and
leveled, 4 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats (not instant)
Combine the cut-up dates, 1/3 cup sugar, orange zest, and orange juice water in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the dates are thick like a jam, 10 to 12 minutes. The dates must be very thick. Watch carefully, and stir constantly towards the end of cooking to prevent scorching. Cool completely.
Adjust an oven rack to the center and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together thoroughly the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it is smooth, about 1 minute. While beating, gradually add the 2/3 cup sugar and beat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until crumbly. Stir in the oatmeal. Press 2 cups of the crumbs (loosely measured) firmly and evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan to make a smooth compact layer. Spread the cooled date mixture on the crust and sprinkle the remaining oatmeal crumbs on top. Pat in place gently to make a smooth even layer but don’t pack it down.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until an even golden brown. The topping may puff and crack a bit. Not to worry. It settles during cooling. Cool the pan completely on a wire rack. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen the “cake” from the sides of the pan, then cut into bars or squares. Store airtight. These stay fresh for several days.
Makes 16 servings.