Monday, September 09, 2019

Chocolate-Date-Oat Squares

My oldest doesn’t like date squares (even though he *loves* date cookies). But I wanted to make something for him to have as a snack when he comes home from school, and even though date squares have a lot of sugar, they also have dates and oats, which are healthy and filling. I decided to take a chance when I saw this recipe for chocolate-date-oat bars in Real Simple. He wasn’t sure he even wanted any when he saw them, but when I said that there was chocolate in them, he decided to try them. And even though he doesn’t love them, he’ll still eat a serving, so I consider this a win! Note that we’ve decided that a proper serving is about half the size of the bar shown below (this decision was based on everyone’s appetite and level of interest in the food as they were eating), so the pan can be divided into 24 squares. I had cut them into bars because the original recipe called them bars, but I’m hereby declaring that they’re squares. I put a third of them in the freezer for a later date. I’m not sure they’d be good in a lunchbox, as they tend to crumble apart, especially the topping, but served at home with a plate and a fork, they were great!

3 cups all-purpose flour (I always use white whole wheat flour)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup granulated sugar
1¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
1½ cups (3 sticks) lactose-free butter or margarine, melted
1 lb. pitted dates
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup (6 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Lightly coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on long sides.

Whisk flour, oats, sugar, and 1½ teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Add butter and stir until evenly moistened. (Dough should look like wet sand.) Set aside a third of the dough for topping. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press remaining two-thirds of dough firmly into bottom of prepared baking dish.

Process dates, ½ cup hot water, vanilla, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Transfer to a bowl and fold in chocolate. Spread mixture evenly over dough in baking dish, smoothing with a spatula. Crumble reserved dough over top, pressing gently to adhere.

Bake until top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, about 1 hour. Cut into 24 squares.

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