Tag Archive for date squares

Vegan Date Squares

Grief is a weird animal. 

It’s been eleven years since I lost my mom… a lifetime, almost. Sometimes, when I tell people that I lost my mom to cancer, they say “oh, I’m sorry!” and I get it, that’s a natural reaction. 

I usually brush it off. It has been, after all, a long time. More than a decade. And I did a bunch of therapy, which was really good. 

And mostly, it’s okay. I’m happy, my life is good, and I don’t think about her too much. 

But Mother’s Day is one of those times that I do. How can you not? 

Vegan Date Squares Recipe

The weirdest thing is, I have discovered myself craving certain foods leading up to days that could be emotionally loaded. Like earlier this year, in February, I had the weirdest, obscure craving for pea soup. It’s not something I would normally crave, but crave it I did. I was halfway though making a pot of pea soup when I remembered that it was one of her faves. She made giant pots of it with hamhocks gently bubbling in a green sea. 

My inexplicable craving was actually a longing to be close to my mom, but it played itself out in food. 

More recently, just before Mother’s Day, I had a really strong craving for date squares. Another thing my mom made all the time, and loved. She called them “Matrimony Squares,” though. 

Nobody quite knows where the name came from, but they were popular on the Prairies, where my mom grew up. Supposedly the two layers “sandwiched” together represent marriage. 

Most people today just call them Date Squares, and honestly, they are a really simple and tasty treat. What I love about these is that they require very little processed sugar, a few simple ingredients, and almost no technique. 

They are a simple, rustic, comforting dessert. 

My mom, of course, made these with butter, but I’ve substituted coconut oil, which works great. 

Date Squares Recipe

Vegan Date Squares

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup oats (the quick cooking kind work better here)
  • ½ cup +2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups pitted dates, chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Mix together the flour, oats and brown sugar, then add in the melted coconut oil and mix everything together, using your hands if need be. 
  2. Line a square baking pan with parchment, or grease it well. Dump about half of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the pan, and then press it down firmly with your hands. 
  3. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, place the dates, water and baking soda. Stir well, and bring up to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low. Allow the dates to cook and soften, stirring occasionally, until they become a jam-like consistency. Turn off the heat and place to the side to cool a little. 
  4. Scrape the date mixture onto the bottom crumble layer in the pan, and then smooth overtop in an even layer. 
  5. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over top and scatter it around so that it coats the date layer evenly. You don’t need to press it down. 
  6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden. 
  7. Allow to cool, then cut into squares. 

 

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!”