A quintessential holiday treat, these Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars are rich and gooey with a crisp oatmeal topping. Always a family favorite!
Today is my birthday and while I do love German Chocolate Cake; that’s a big dessert to make without a party planned so I decided to make myself a whole bunch of these Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars that I’ve loved since I was a young girl. A cake will happen but not today and I love these bars so much that I’m OK with that!
Funny but even with this recipe online, I still had to find my little yellow binder with the handwritten recipe card. Some of these recipes are more than the sum of their ingredients; some are precious memories too and seeing those cards can take me back in time quickly to the moment of first discovery so I keep that little binder and was so hoping it had not been lost in the move.
My Grandma Bathe (my Dad’s mother) and my Mom made these Date Nut Bars for holidays for as long as I can remember (and they were my Dad’s favorite too!). When they were both gone and no longer carrying the torch of keeping this a family treasure I was happy to take on that role. Wondering now if those simple things that meant so much to me will matter to my own girls; they don’t seem as much inclined to be vested in family baking ventures as I have always been so maybe it’s perfect that I’m sharing this today in hopes many of you will love them and hold this recipe precious as well.
Not made just for tradition though; I love them. I mean as in I have to package them away and hide them from me so I don’t eat the whole pan love 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. Slightly crispy crust that is replicated as the topping 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 could 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.
One last foray into one more box and I’m surprised if you didn’t hear me squeal; seems almost silly but I have few real treasures from those many, many years ago and this little ugly yellow binder is one of them.
These Old Fashioned Date Nut Bars had fallen out of my consciousness and I’m glad I thought of them and took the time to re-discover the recipe; they are absolutely going back in the rotation.
These are for you too Dad; I will think fondly of you every year when I make these for the holidays. Hope you know you are missed but we’ll be thinking of you and every time I make these you and Mom and Grandma will be close by. I owe you. I will never forget how you fought to convince Mom to let me have that Princess phone in my room for my big Christmas gift when I was twelve. Still love talking on the phone more than texting. 🙂
They may be old-fashioned but they should not be out of favor. Even my friend Sam (who I should really call Mikey), who professed a sort of ‘meh’ attitude about something with dates really liked them!
Date Nut Bars
For the Date Filling
- 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
For the Crust
- 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
To Make the Filling:
- 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.
Prepare the crust:
- 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 combine the dates with the sugar and chopped until they were a uniform size. So easy and no sticking!
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!