Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Date Squares

Whew! That’s quite the handle, hey?

My last post, the Jungle Monkey Love Cake? I made that for a dessert when I went over to have dinner with some friends a couple of weeks ago. Well, unbeknownst to me, my friend had some pretty serious dietary restrictions. She is both a diabetic and a celiac, so she didn’t get to eat said cake, but her partner sure did enjoy it.

But I felt bad. I don’t like my friends to have to go dessert-less. And I do love a challenge. Throw dietary restrictions at me, and dare me to come up with something tasty, and I will do it.

Enter the humble date square. Simple ingredients, simple prep, but oh so sweet and tasty. This recipe is adapted from a couple that I found, both raw. I chose to cook mine, but you don’t need to. I like the kiss of golden brown on the crumble topping.

sugar free, gluten free, vegan date squares

Here are the links to the original recipes: My New Roots (h/t @juliaaustine) and Oh She Glows.

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Date Squares

Ingredients:

Crust/topping:

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 cups oats (gluten-free if you are making these for someone with celiac)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance) or coconut oil. If you’re not vegan, use butter.
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Filling:

  • two packages of dates (375 g each)
  • one orange
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water

Method:

Base:

  • Put the walnuts and oats in a food processor, and slowly turn up the volume until you are processing them on high. You don’t need it to be a fine flour, but you want it to be fairly crumb-like. Add in the cinnamon.
  • Turn the motor to slow, and add the maple syrup. Melt the butter, and add slowly through the feeding chute.
  • The mixture should be clinging together. Divide into thirds, two thirds will be you bottom crust.
  • Line an 8″x8″ square pan with parchment, and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan.

Filling:

  • Unwrap the dates and cut them into chunks in a medium sauce pan. Zest the orange and add it to the dates, then cut it in half and add the juice to the mixture as well. Add a 1/4 c of water, and turn the pan on low to medium heat. Let the whole mixture melt together, adding more water if necessary. I usually employ a potato masher to get everything good and squished up and working together. Your final result should be a thickish paste.
  • Spread the filling layer on top of your base, and top with the leftover base, but don’t pack it down as hard as the bottom layer.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.

UPDATE: from the gluten-free diabetic: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! They are most delicious!”

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8 comments

  1. Julia says:

    How did they go over with your friend? Good call on using the walnuts and the orange, I think those two ingredients give it a great balance.

  2. I haven’t delivered them yet, but other taste-testers (including myself and vegan friend) seemed pretty happy with the result.

  3. Matt Fisher says:

    Best date squares I ever tasted! And I don’t have any dietary restrictions; just good taste. 🙂 (Am I allowed to out myself as a taste-tester, Bex?! I think I just did.)

  4. Marianne says:

    I love date squares! My mom would make them when she was going somewhere, and we would always pester her to make a 2nd batch so we could have some too. I like that these ones are super uncomplicated, and have that orange flavour I’m used to. What kind of dates did you use?

  5. Sky says:

    I made these for a gathering that included gluten-free and vegan coworkers and they were really yummy! Loads of luscious date filling!

    Next time, I might process the walnuts on their own and then mix them with the whole oats and softened Earth Balance (instead of melted) to make a sturdier, more traditional crust. Also, I might cut down on the cinnamon a bit so the crust isn’t as dark.

    Great recipe! Thank you!

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