Happy Wednesday lovelies!
Hooray we have made it half way through the work week! I think we all deserve a big pat on the back and possibly a little something sweet… who’s with me???
Okay, so if this is your first time visiting this site, you won’t know this about me yet… but I am pretty much obsessed with dates… (the fruit that is.) Now for tor those of you who are returning readers, although I have never actually specifically addressed this obsession, you have most likely already guessed this about me, seeing as how I tend to use dates in a lot of my baking. Doesn’t matter if they are fresh dates or dried dates, I can’t seem to get enough of them!
In the past I have been keeping this obsession kind of on the down-low because for some reason when you tell people that you like dates, they tend to look at you like you are the strangest person on earth and like they think you must be a grandmother in disguise. But I say enough with the hiding! I’m not ashamed to admit it anymore – I LOVE dates. They are delicious, and if you think otherwise or worse, if you haven’t ever tried a date…. you need to hustle to the grocery store right now and pick some up because once you have a taste and unlock the hidden potential of this chewy little fruit. Trust me – once you give them a try, you will be just as excited as I am.
Dates make for the most amazing, and unique addition to almost any baked good! Not only do I use them as a natural sweetener in almost all of my homemade granola & granola bar recipe’s, but I also love to throw them into muffins, scones, loaves, cookies… oh who am I kidding I love to put them in everything!
Now for those of you who have not experimented with the joys of baking the dates, let me just explain to you what happens to a date when you bake it. Basically as the dates bake they take on the most delicious caramelly and nutty flavour with an amazingly chewy and sticky texture that will have you swooning. It is almost like they turn into all-natural pieces of caramel… seriously how could you not want that in your baked goodies???
So the other day when I was deep in Farmers Market recipe creation mode, I decided that I wanted to have a yummy oatmeal bar option to sell as one of my goodies. I wanted something that would not only be delicious and appealing throughout the seasons, but also something that would be easy for people to eat on the go as they make their way through the rest of the market. So I was staring into my pantry looking for inspiration, when my freshly replenished jar of dates caught my eye. I immediately pictured how a soft, chewy, caramelly date filling would pair with a delicious, oaty crumble and I knew that it taste amazing while also being super quick & easy to prepare for the markets.
Ohhh my goodness did these Sticky Date & Toffee Bars ever hit the mark! They turned out just the way I hoped they would! They have a chewy oatmeal crust, a thick date filling and just a little bit of crunch from their toasted oatmeal topping. The combination of the buttery, oatmeal crust, with just a little hint of cinnamon, and the caramelly, date and toffee filling is just to die for! These bars will melt in your mouth! They are soooo delicious and not to mention they are the perfect on-the-go snack!
If you have never baked with dates, this is the perfect recipe to try your hand at! It is super simple to make and the result is too delicious to pass up!
Sticky Date & Toffee Oatmeal Squares
Things you need…
10.5 oz dates
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup skor toffee bits
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Crumb Crust & Topping
1 cup butter, room temp
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup large rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
How to make…
Place dates, salt, and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook down for about 10 minutes. Add in the brown sugar and maple syrup; continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the water is evaporated and a smooth, sticky date mixture remains. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Allow to cool completely to room temperature. Once cooled, stir in the skor toffee bits and set aside.
Crumb Crust & Topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line either an 8×8 inch square or a 7×11 inch rectangular baking pan with parchment paper.
Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add in vanilla and beat to combine. Whisk together flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon. Slowly add to wet ingredients and beat on low until mixture is crumbly, being careful not to over mix.
Press 1/2 of the crumble into the bottom of the prepared pan and then spread the date filling evenly over top. Sprinkle the remaining crumble on top of the date filling and lightly press down to evenly cover the filling.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares to serve.
There it is! One of the most delicious, and I personally think completely guilt-free oatmeal bars that you will ever taste!
Why are theyse little gems guilt free you ask? Well, as you can see from the recipe, there is hardly any added sugar in the date filling, and this is because the dates have such an amazing flavour and are already sweet on their own. Dates are also rich in a number of vitamins and minerals like fibre, calcium and iron so they are a super healthy little snack! Not to mention this recipe is full of whole grain oats, so you have even more fibre on your hands with these delicious little bars!
Yup- these oaty bars really make for a nutritious on-the-go snack that is so incredibly delicious, that I can guarantee your family with love and will have no troubles devouring the whole pan… even if you have a few picky eaters on your hands 😉
Now although I would love for you to give this recipe a try yourself – if you are still unsure about the whole date thing, you can always just come and check out a free sample at the Maple Ridge Farmers Market at my booth! 😀 I will be handing out all kinds of free samples of my goodies throughout the day! My first date is Saturday May 16th, 2015 so if any of you live in the area, I would love for you to come by :D:D
Happy Baking! <3