I do love a fruity bar, or square. Particularly those with oats in to form the base and a crumble-like top. So, with some dates on hand I decided to make some. Dates are, as you probably know, the fruit of the Date Palm. They have such a wonderfully rich and sweet flavour with a thick and fudgy texture. So they are ideal to use as the filling in bars.
For the base I wanted to use some oats which are always very good in such treats. I also had some chopped, and roasted, hazelnuts on hand. So, since I wanted a crumble-like top to the bars, I decided to use them as well.
The final flavouring I wanted was just a hint of citrus. So I decided to use some chopped mixed peel to provide that flavour. However I didn’t really want the firm bite of the little chunks of peel. To eliminate that I processed the mixed peel into a paste which mixed easily into the dates as I cooked them to a purée.
This is such an easy recipe to make and it offers great reward in the end result. There are only a few steps too. Cook the dates to a thick and slightly chunky purée. Then make a quick oat crumble mixture including the hazelnuts. Divide the crumble mix into two parts. One forms the bottom of the bars. Onto that you spread the date purée. Then the remaining crumble is sprinkled all over the top and gently pressed down. After that the bars are baked and cooled before slicing and serving.
What could be simpler?
Now, I mentioned using some chopped mixed peel, and how I dealt with that. However, you could leave that out and still have great tasting bars. Or, indeed, you could use some grated zest instead.
Again, I used chopped hazelnuts but walnuts, pecans or other nuts would work well too.
My bars came together very easily. I did suggest cooking the dates down to a purée for 10 minutes. However I actually only cooked mine for 7 minutes, by which time they were just right.
The oat mixture took very little time to make and assembling the bars was so simple.
Then I baked mine for 27 minutes and left them to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before transferring them to a cutting board for slicing.
The bars tasted so good, with a hint of citrus bringing out the full, rich, flavour of the dates. The oat base and crumble top was perfect too. Soft, but also crunchy, with the extra bite and flavour of the hazelnuts.
Although I used a 13in x 9 in(32cm x 23cm) pan you could easily halve the recipe and use an 8in x 8in (20cm x 20cm) pan for fewer bars.
Another very easy recipe, with great flavour, is Chocolate Oat Bars.
Date & Oat Bars – With HazelnutsCourse: Biscuits, Cookies, DessertsDifficulty: Easy
450g(1 lb) pitted and chopped dates
20g(2tbsp) chopped mixed peel, processed to paste(optional) see note below
50g(1/4 cup) caster sugar
120ml(1/2 cup) water
225g(1 1/3 cups + 2 1/2 tbsp, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour
120g(1 1/2 cups) rolled oats
200g(1 packed cup) dark brown sugar
227g(1 cup) unsalted butter, melted
110g(1 cup) chopped, roasted, hazelnuts(or other nuts of choice)
3g(1 tsp) ground cinnamon
2g(1/2 tsp) baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 190C(170C Fan/375 F.
- Grease a 13in x 9in(32cm x 23cm) pan and line with parchment paper(lining is optional but I like to lift the bars out, rather than cut them in the pan).
- Place the dates, caster sugar, water and chopped mixed peel paste into a saucepan.
- Place the saucepan onto the stove and bring it to a boil, stirring. Continue to boil gently until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture forms a rough purée.
- Set the date mixture to one side to cool a little.
- In a large bowl place the flour, cinnamon and baking soda and stir to combine.
- Add the oats, hazelnuts and dark brown sugar and mix again.
- Pour in the melted butter and stir until everything is moist and is clumping into a crumble-like mixture.
- Place half of the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly over the base. Then press it down with the back of a spoon until it is evenly compressed all over.
- Spoon the date mixture onto the base and and spread it evenly all over.
- Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on the top, covering the date mixture.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top starts to colour nicely.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes before cutting, or removing from the pan and then cutting, into bars.
- I used chopped mixed peel which I then minced into a paste, in my grinder. However you could use just the little chunks if you wanted. Or you can grate the zest of an orange and a lemon if you wish. But it is optional, so you don’t need to use any citrus at all if you don’t wish to.