A while ago, I’d made a pretty decent attempt at making Paleo Date Squares, and while I must say that they were VERY much to my liking, the feeling apparently was not what I would call unanimous. Indeed, my previous version was extremely different from what people are expecting when they think of a Date Square: a soft, moist and crumbly little treat that gives so extremely willingly when your fork, or teeth, digs into it. Instead, these Date Squares were rather firm. Mah… make that very firm. Delicious still, but the texture was a little bit off to those who were hoping to replicate the authentic Date Square experience.
With that in mind, I’d made a mental note to revisit the recipe and make it as close as possible to the actual thing this time. So when my family suggested we throw a Potluck Party for Mother’s Day this year, I jumped right on the occasion and put Date Squares on my list of offerings. Hey, such social gatherings are the perfect place for treats, aren’t they?
This time, I think I totally nailed it. These guys are the perfect replica of a proper typical Date Square. Their flavor is totally heavenly: while they contain no added sugar whatsoever, the treats are still deliciously sweet. They tantalize your taste buds with not so subtle citrus-y notes and a decadently rich buttery flavor. Their texture is melt-in-your-mouth soft and creamy, yet they are pleasantly crunchy and crumbly and are sturdy enough to hold their shape when picked up with one hand.
I say if you’re in the mood for a good Date Square, you may proceed and try this recipe with confidence. In fact, it may very well become the last and ultimate Date Square recipe you’ll ever want to use.
I know it now is mine…
First, we need to work on the date mixture. Combine the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook, stirring frequently over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid has completely evaporated and you’re left with a creamy, smooth and heavenly fragrant date mixture.
Kill the heat and set aside to cool.
Now take your food processor out of the cupboards and make the crumble: add some sliced almonds, toasted coconut flakes, almond flour, tapioca starch, coconut flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, ghee and lard to the bowl of your food processor. Give this a couple of quick pulses until the mixture is just combined, no more. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
On a side note, if you didn’t have any lard in the pantry, you could very well use all ghee or even butter, if you do dairy. I suppose you could also use coconut oil instead, but it would change the flavor somewhat… although not in an unpleasant way at all, me thinks.
Alright, so while your dough is getting a bit of a chill, preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9” square baking pan with coconut oil (or lard, or ghee) and then line it with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang on either side. This simple precaution will help a great deal when you go to take your treats out of the pan.
With the tip of your fingers, press about 2/3 of the crumble mix at the bottom of the prepared pan. You might want to slightly wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking to your fingers.
Now drop little dollops of the date puree over the base and then spread it delicately, as evenly as you can, all the way to the edge.
Scatter the rest of the crumble mixture right over the date puree, followed by about 1/4 cup of sliced almonds.
Bake your Date Squares for 32 to 35 minutes, until the top gets nice and golden brown and the house gets filled with the most intoxicating aroma.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely.
I understand that you are very impatient to taste your treats now, but honestly, I strongly believe that these bars are at their best when cold. Besides, if you were to cut them now, you’d probably end up with some kind of a crumbly mess, then you’d say I was lying when I said that they were sturdy enough to be picked up with one hand… so really… really… let them cool!
And if despite my warning you choose to go against my word and indulge right this minute, well hey, please don’t hold me responsible for any potential disasters that may occur, alright?
Okay, so now that your squares have had a chance to fully chill, (because they have, right?) delicately lift them off the pan and cut into 16 squares.
Finally, sit yourself down with your Date Squares and enjoy a moment of pure bliss!
Now that, you can totally blame, or thank rather, me for…
- 500g pitted dates
- The juice and zest of 1 orange (about ½ cup)
- The juice of 1 lime (2 tbsp)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp ghee (or make your own)
- ½ vanilla bean
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
- Combine all the ingredients for the date mixture in a medium saucepan and cook, stirring frequently over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has completely evaporated and you’re left with a creamy, smooth and heavenly fragrant date mixture. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of your food processor, combine all the ingredients for the crumble, save for ¼ cup of the sliced almonds; process on pulse until the mixture is just combined, no more. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9” square baking pan with coconut oil and then line it with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang on either side. This simple precaution will allow for easy unmolding later.
- With the tip of your fingers, press a little more than half the crumble at the bottom of the prepared pan. You might want to slightly wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking to your fingers.
- Now drop little dollops of the date mixture over the base and spread it delicately, as evenly as you can all the way to the edge, then scatter the rest of the crumble mixture right on top, followed by the reserved ¼ cup of sliced almonds.
- Bake for 32 to 35 minutes, until the top gets nice and golden brown and the house is filled with the most intoxicating aroma.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely, preferably overnight. Remove from the pan and cut into 16 squares.