Date bars and other delicious recipes to make with dates

Whenever we hear the frequently repeated Mom-ism "nature's candy," we think of this intensely sweet fruit of the date palm tree. Now is the prime time to enjoy it, as fresh dates, from California and the Middle East, start to pop up in markets by summer's end.

Tips:

Choose Wisely

Look for dates with smooth, shiny skin. Avoid shriveled dates or those with mold or sugar crystals on their surface.

Store Properly

Store dates in the refrigerator. Fresh dates will last up to two weeks; dried, if kept in an airtight container, can last up to a year.

Snack on Dates

Sugar-sweet dates make a great substitute for candy. Remove the pits and roll dates in shredded coconut, and you have a great snack for kids without the refined sugar. Or, use a blender to make an easy date shake.

Snacks and Hors d'oeuvres

Salads and Main Courses

Sweet Treats

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CLASSIC DATE BARS

Bon Appétit | February 2004

by Susan Richardson, Edina, MN

Yield: Makes 16

Susan Richardson of Edina, Minnesota, writes: "My mother worked full-time when I was growing up, so as the oldest daughter in a family of six children, I did a lot of cooking. From the time I was seven years old, my mom taught me how to cook and bake - salad, bread, vegetables, and dessert were pretty much part of every dinner. Even today, I make it a point to prepare and eat dinner with my two teenage children. Though we're very busy, we'll never abandon our dinner ritual. It's the time when we can talk and reconnect."

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8-inch metal baking pan. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in medium saucepan. Add dates; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

Combine flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl; stir to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps form. Press half of oat mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture over. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture; press gently to adhere. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cut into bars and serve.

Photo: Scott Peterson

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