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
- 1 lb chopped dates (See notes)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 3/4 cups oatmeal
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- Boil dates, sugar, and water until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Add the butter, vanilla, walnuts and coconut and mix thoroughly.
- Set aside to cool a bit.
- Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Firmly press half of the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.
- Cover with filling mixture.
- Top with remaining half of crust mixture. Press lightly.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; watch carefully and do not overbake.
- 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 1/4 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
Gourmet Traveller 88
Leftover Queen post 2
SpaBettie Post 2
The Spiced Life
Food Lust People Love
All That’s Left are the Crumbs
The Feast Within
Vanilla Kitchen Blog
Dine & Dish
No Fear Entertaining
The Adventures of Kitchen Girl
Baking and Boys