When I was a kid my mother sometimes bought cereal that had dates in it. I used to pick them out, making a neat pile of hard, dried dates next to the bowl. I thought they looked like cat treats and their chewy texture interrupted the enjoyment I got from the otherwise delicious bowl of flakes and raisins.
Many years later, I realized dates came in a larger, fresher form that could actually taste good. I also grew to respect the role of the mighty date in the dessert archives, since dried fruits used to be one of the only affordable and reliable ways to bake with something sweet year-round.
My mother often tells me that my Nana used to make date nut bread, which they would slice and spread with cream cheese. When I visit Nana I like to bring her something sweet, so on my last trip down to Wakefield I brought date nut squares.
In an effort to be time-period accurate, I scoured my old cookbooks for a recipe, and found one in a paperback of Betty Crocker’s All Time Favorites. The batter was thick, but the bars baked up nicely, and looked lovely laced with delicate ribbons of icing. For Nana, the sweeter the better.
Date Nut Squares
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s All-Time Favorites (1977)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped dates
1 cup chopped nuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch baking dish.In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until light and lemon colored. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until combined.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and continue mixing. Fold in the dates and nuts, then spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. The batter will be quite thick.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes, then cool and cut into squares. Drizzle with icing if you wish (add milk to powdered sugar until thin enough to drizzle).
Yield: 16 squares
Click to view and print the recipe for Date Nut Squares