When you attend those holiday parties are you a cookie or a square kind of person? What is the first thing you try to find on the table full of goodies? I honestly look for a vegetable platter first (I know, boring). If there are no veggies then I must see if there are date squares on there.
Date squares always remind me of church gatherings, grandmothers and knitted cozies. I don’t know why they remind me of grandmothers and knitted cozies because my grandmother never made date squares or knitted anything really. But I do remember the very first time I had a date square as a child. It was in a church gym after some Christmas concert – the details of the concert obviously not memorable – but the date squares were. So soft and chewy, but not too sweet. I remember my mother saying something to the effect of ‘Ewwww, you liked the date squares?’ as we were leaving the church. ‘Yes!’ I responded ‘Can you make some?’ That was wishful thinking because my mother only baked one thing during the holidays. Cookies. She was just too busy to bake other things.
One of my mother-in-laws makes the most amazing date squares (or as she calls it ‘Matrimonial Cake’). Every time I am at her house for the holidays I eat several pieces of these squares. I know they are old-fashioned but I love them! So, this is my (first) attempt at making a gluten-free version with no refined sugar and cutting the fat. They turned out great but I will warn you they are a little more crumbly then the traditional recipe. I used coconut oil in replace of the butter. I heard a really interesting point about coconut oil on Dr. Oz (guilty) the other day. When you eat traditional butter, your body takes all of it and converts it to fat within your body. However, when you eat coconut oil, your body only converts a third of it into fat within the body! So you can feel a little less guilty about eating this version of date squares. I hope you enjoy these old-fashioned squares as much as I did!
This recipe was recently revamped and updated to work much better! You can check it out here. Happy gluten-free, vegan baking!
- 1½ cup dates, pitted & diced
- 1 cup water
- pinch of sea salt
- zest of ½ lemon, juice of 1 whole lemon
- 6 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup of walnuts, blended in food processor until crumbly
- 1¾ cup quick oats (gluten free)
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp xantan gum
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Combine the dates, water, sea salt lemon zest and juice in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Heat for about 10 mins until soft and paste-like. Set aside in bowl and let cool before using.
- In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, walnuts, brown rice flour, oats, maple syrup xantan gum & baking soda to make the crumb.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line an 8" x 8" pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with some coconut oil. Take ⅔ of the crumb mixture and press into pan. Layer on the cooled date paste. Cover with remaining crumb mixture.
- Bake in oven for 35-45 mins. Let cool before cutting into squares.
What about you? Do you go for the cookie at the table or the square?