I recently discovered that I no longer fear Indian food. I have been experimenting with cardamom and other India-centric flavors and thought date bars would be a great vehicle for this new-found love. Fragrant and hearty, these treats go well with coffee, tea or as a dessert. Powdered sugar can be applied if desired, but it’s certainly not required.
1 1/2 pounds dates, roughly chopped
10 ounces orange juice
10 ounces water
1/2 teaspoon The Spice House Orange Flower Water
2 Tablespoons orange zest shreds
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cups oats
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon The Spice House Cardamom
1/4 teaspoon The Spice House Mace
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup roughly chopped pistachio meats (for top crust)
15 x 10 x 2 glass baking pan sprayed with vegetable spray. (For thicker bars, use a 13 x 9 x 2 pan.)
Prepare filling. In a small saucepan bring to a boil the filling ingredients. Lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 12-15 minutes, or until dates are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed. Pulse the date mixture in a food processor until spreadable consistency, but do not liquefy. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare crust. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, salt, baking soda, cardamom, mace, cinnamon and brown sugar. Rub in the butter with hands until mixture is crumbly. Press half of crust mixture into the bottom and about 1/2” up the sides of the prepared pan. Toss chopped pistachios with remaining crumbs and set aside.
Spread cooled filling evenly on crust. Distribute remaining crumb mixture over top of the date filling. Bake in the preheated 350°F oven 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Store any leftover bars in a single layer in a plastic container with a tight fitting seal.
Cutting Tip: A metal bench scraper is a very effective tool to use when cutting these bars. Score by pressing the bench scraper gently into the bars to mark the portions. Using the score marks as a guide, firmly press the bench scraper all the way until it touches the baking pan. The cuts will be clean and complete.