How do you amplify the exotic, intoxicating sweetness of dates?
Melt them down in maple syrup then bake between two layers of streusel.
Recipe based on Caren Bair’s Maple Oat Date Bars.
2 cups dates
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup water
Zest of one lemon
1 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
Handful of chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 200° C. Butter a square Pyrex baking dish or lamington pan.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda + powder, spices and salt. Add the oats, and whisk together. Set aside.
- De-seed and finely chop the dates, then put them in a medium saucepan with the maple syrup, water and lemon zest.
- Heat on medium, stirring every now and then to prevent burning/sticking, until the liquid has all been absorbed. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or hand beaters, cream together the sugars, butter and vanilla.
- Slowly add the flour/oats mixture and mix til combined (it will be kind of sandy, like streusel).
- Pour 2/3 of the streusel mix into the baking dish and press down firmly to form the base of the slice. Add the walnuts to the remaining streusel.
- Pour the date mixture on top of the base layer, and spread it out with a spatula to form an even layer.
- Pour the rest of the (now-wanutty) streusel on top and press it down just lightly to form the top crust.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until evenly golden on top.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing straight out of the baking dish.
Two things to note: firstly, it’s a good idea to cut small slices — the dates and maple syrup make this QUITE rich; secondly (somewhat relatedly), the streusel topping WILL go everywhere when you slice it, but it’s delicious so we’ll forgive it for being such a mess.
Unrelatedly, if you don’t have (or don’t want to use) half a cup of maple syrup, I imagine golden syrup or corn syrup or treacle would work just as well.