Tu Bishvat Date Squares
2 1/2 cups pitted dates (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2/3 cup light brown sugar - packed
1 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon orange oil - optional
Brown Sugar Oatmeal Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter
Instructions:Filling: combine dates, brown sugar, water, vanilla, lemon juice and orange oil in a 2 quart saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 1 to 3 minutes to soften dates. Remove from stove and cool well. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Clean and dry food processor.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9-by-9 inch square pan.
Crust: place flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in the work bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine, then add chunks of the cold butter until you have a crumbly mixture. Pat half of mixture into pan. Spread on cooled date mixture. Top with remaining crumb mixture, as evenly as possible. Press down lightly.
Place pan on cookie sheet - this prevents bottom from browning too quickly. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until top is golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes then place in freezer for 20 minutes before cutting into squares.
Comments:Date squares may seem old school but adding some perks of flavour here and there updates a classic. This is especially good for Tu Bishvat as it makes many servings and keeps for a few days. Oats are the grainy offering here, and dates, as old as time, are the biblical fruit component.