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Date Nut Bars for #Elleapalooza

Date, Nut and Coconut Bars

by Barbara Kiebel on February 9, 2014

I mentioned last week that a longtime blogging friend, Elle with Elle’s New England Kitchen had suddenly passed away. A group of us wanted to publish something from her blog this weekend to honor her. She loved doing group ‘apalooza’ events (I remember ice cream especially; think it was #Scoopapalooza) so it’s only right we send out these posts as part of #Elleapalooza; look for them on Twitter and Facebook! One again her untimely death is tied to my father’s passing and not surprisingly food is the tie that binds.

I wanted to make something out of remembrance for my Dad and it’s weirdly prophetic that searching for a recipe for a favorite treat I used to make for him led me to Elle’s site. So many of my recipes and cookbooks are still packed in boxes; I knew what I wanted but had no idea where the recipe was so did a search online. I knew when I saw the recipe for Date Nut Bars that if it wasn’t exactly the same, it was as close as I could get. Reading Elle’s post was almost surreal; many were words I could have written. How my Grandma Bathe (my Dad’s mother) and my Mom made these for holidays for as long as I can remember (and they were my Dad’s favorite too!). How when they no longer carried the torch, she took on the job…much like I did in our family.

But more than anything? How much we loved them! They are a simple treat; simple to make, simple to serve and simple to eat. But they are also a delicious one; especially if you love dates in any fashion like I do. Soft yet crispy crust that is replicated as the topping too with a creamy date, walnut and coconut filling sandwiched between. Mine has coconut but I think I might have made that addition a long time ago but other than that? I can almost see the faded recipe card and I remembered fondly the ‘olden’ days when cooks shared their creations with their friends and family and no one yelled about owning a recipe…sharing it was all that mattered.

That’s where my friend Elle and I were so on the same page. I love to cook; so did she. I love to share what I make with everyone and Elle did too. So I know she would love that I am sharing this recipe with you today as a memory of one of my Dad’s favorite things. Drat if I only knew their address I would send them a box to share!


I sent my Dad a box of goodies every year for Christmas and many years these were included. They had fallen, not out of favor, but somehow out of my consciousness and I’m glad I thought of them…they are absolutely going  back in the rotation.

These are for you Lea Ann (Elle’s real name) and John Gregory…I will miss you both but I will always think fondly of you every year when I make these for the holidays. Hope you know you are missed. XOXO

Date Nut Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 18-24 barf
For the Date Filling:
  • 1 lb chopped dates (See notes)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup coconut
For the Crust:
  • 1¾ cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
To Make the Filling:
  1. Boil dates, sugar, and water until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Add the butter, vanilla, walnuts and coconut and mix thoroughly.
  2. Set aside to cool a bit.
Prepare the crust:
  1. Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Firmly press half of the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.
  3. Cover with filling mixture.
  4. Top with remaining half of crust mixture. Press lightly.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; watch carefully and do not overbake.
  6. Cut into squares when cool and store in an airtight container.
Dates are a pain to chop so I used to buy the pre-chopped ones from the grocery store but they were always dry. I noticed that they were coated in sugar too and it hit me one day that this is how they kept them from sticking together. Duh.

So, I put my pitted dates into a food processor and added ¼ cup of the sugar and processed until they were a uniform size. So easy!

No food processor? Simply put sugar and dates on cutting board and keep mixing them together; it will help to keep them from sticking to your knife and to each other!

Want more? Check out more food from Elle’s blog made by others who are participating in #Elleapalooza; I promise it will all be good!

He Cooks She Cooks
Taste as you Go
Kudos Kitchen
Gourmet Traveller 88
Leftover Queen
Leftover Queen post 2
SpaBettie Post 2
The Spiced Life
Food Lust People Love
Girl Chef
All That’s Left are the Crumbs
Savory Moments
The Feast Within
A-Z Cookbook
Vanilla Kitchen Blog
Creative Culinary
Zebot’s Kitchen
Flamingo Musings
Dine & Dish
No Fear Entertaining
The Adventures of Kitchen Girl
Baking and Boys

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth Fitzmaurice March 30, 2014 at 10:56 am

I made these yesterday, minus the coconut, and let me tell you…..awesome. I swear, these totally remind me of the ones from my childhood. I’ll be bringing my Dad some of these today and he’s going to be one happy man. Thanks for this great, old-fashioned Date Bar recipe ~ it’s a keeper!


2 Creative Culinary March 30, 2014 at 4:41 pm

You are most welcome; I felt just the same way about them. One taste and I was transported to another place; I love that about food! Hope your Dad is happy too; they are what I would call a simple pleasure…so easy and not complicated but SO good!


3 Aqiyl Aniys March 28, 2014 at 7:48 pm

My mouth is watering. I love dates and your recipe is totally awesome.


4 Tanya February 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Great advice about the dates. I hate when they stick together.
Tanya Most Recent Post: Keys to Attracting Top Talent


5 Creative Culinary February 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

Makes chopping them a chore that doesn’t leave me wanting to pull my hair out. :)


6 sippitysup February 10, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Very sad news for our community. But a beautiful tribute. GREG


7 Creative Culinary February 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Thanks Greg.


8 Abbe@This is How I Cook February 10, 2014 at 10:40 am

Old fashioned desserts are the best! I used to love these and just may have to give yours a try! So sorry to hear about your loss (es). May this recipe be a happy reminder of your friend.
Abbe@This is How I Cook Most Recent Post: George, King of Skyes and a Baby Burger


9 Creative Culinary February 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I’ve still got some; come on down!! :)


10 Renee - Kudos Kitchen February 10, 2014 at 6:51 am

Such a lovely recipe and memories. Elle was like no other and will be forever missed.
Renee – Kudos Kitchen Most Recent Post: In Memoriam ~ Elle’s Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches for #ElleAPalooza


11 Jayne February 10, 2014 at 6:20 am

Lovely tribute Barb, I didn’t know Elle and it sounds as if that was my loss. Can you believe I’ve never had a date bar before, they sound great so that’s something I will have to fix pronto!


12 Creative Culinary February 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm

You must try them Jayne; sort of like a fig but sweeter and in my mind…better!


13 Maureen | Orgasmic Chef February 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm

I love date bars but my recipe doesn’t have walnuts. I’m going to try your recipe in honor of your dad and Elle. Wonderful tribute.
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef Most Recent Post: Chocolate Mousse Cake


14 Renée J. (RJ Flamingo) February 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

It’s funny about the invisible hands that guide us sometimes, eh, Barb? :-) Your are stunning and from the heart. Your Date Nut Bars look outstanding. Elle would have loved it!

Oh – and I have her address, if you need it. :-)
Renée J. (RJ Flamingo) Most Recent Post: Spiced Pumpkin Chickpea Stew for #ElleAPalooza


15 Creative Culinary February 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

You know I would love her address; I was FINALLY going to order some jewelry for me; so sad that did not happen but I would love to send a card to the family. I do feel like I lost a real friend. Every single day I think of he;r I’m still in that denial stage.


16 Nancy@acommunaltable February 9, 2014 at 2:56 pm

This is a lovely tribute Barb and I can’t think of a better one – and I am sure that Elle would be touched by this story. Food indeed binds us – was at an FBLA event last evening and one of the bloggers who was there writes about both fashion and food and she said something interesting – she said the fashion bloggers were a bit clickish but the food bloggers make everyone feel welcome and included. I can tell just be reading the ingredients that I am going to have to make these because I know I will love them!!!!


17 Creative Culinary February 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm

You would love them…I know I do. Funny isn’t it; we hear from other food bloggers how clicque-ish food bloggers are…guess it’s a point of perspective. Many are; thankfully many are not.


18 Wendy Read February 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Lovely tribute Barb, to both Elle and your Dad. This life, it is difficult to suffer loss.


19 Paula February 9, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Lovely post Barb. My Mom would make date squares every holiday but never with chopped walnuts. I must remember to add these and the the coconut the next time I make a batch.


20 Jamie February 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm

“She loved doing group ‘apalooza’ events”… how sad to have one for her now, like this. Oh, don’t get me wrong… it is wonderful and marvelous and I’ve been looking through her wonderful recipes to make a couple, too, but the whole thing is just so sad. It does bring up memories of the other people, other loved ones we have lost and I am left speechless. xoxo


21 Lizzy (Good Things) February 9, 2014 at 11:36 am

Barbara, it has been decades since I ate something like this with dates in it. Looks totally delicious… and I think it would go down very well with my Peter. Thanks for sharing.
Lizzy (Good Things) Most Recent Post: Prawn and strawberry salad with poppyseeds + a ‘good things’ Valentine’s Day Recipe Roundup


22 ZeBot Zebra February 9, 2014 at 10:47 am

I’m gonna bake these today — in honor of Elle AND your dad. Thanks so much for sharing the sweetness, Barbara! Love, ZeBot
ZeBot Zebra Most Recent Post: Cooking Up ZeComfort in Elle’s Kitchen


23 Heather February 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

Wow even when gone she led you to the right recipe to honor your father. I’d say that in itself is an honor for her as well.

Loved this.
Heather Most Recent Post: Banana Bread Beer Donut Muffins


24 John@Kitchen Riffs February 9, 2014 at 9:54 am

I love date nut bars! We have a recipe that we make now and again. It’s my great grandmother’s — when I was a kid, my mother would make them every Christmas (they were a favorite of her father’s). I don’t remember coconut in my recipe (but it’s been some time since we’ve made them), but I love the addition. Great cookies! And lovely way to remember both your dad and Elle.
John@Kitchen Riffs Most Recent Post: Boca Negra Cake


25 Creative Culinary February 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I think I might have added the coconut at some point years ago and now it’s embedded in my memory as part of the recipe. Just another element but could also be eliminated without a problem.


26 Elizabeth March 22, 2014 at 8:15 am

I remember date bars from my childhood, how much I loved them back then. This recipe of yours sounds like the kind I remember, but without the coconut. If I omit the coconut, do you think I’d need to add more of something else since I’d be removing 1 Cup’s worth of something?


27 Creative Culinary March 22, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I don’t think so Elizabeth; they’re just a component much like nuts would be so I think you can omit them and do everything else the same.


28 Elizabeth March 22, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Thanks. I’ll go for it. My Dad will be thrilled with these!

29 Creative Culinary March 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I loved them; could not stop eating them!


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