By Cat, Jul 2007 (Photo, right, cropped from Wikimedia Commons)
When I was a kid, my favorite commercial cookie was Fig Newtons. We couldn’t get fresh or dried figs in 1950s rural Montana. But one day my Mom found a recipe for Date Bars in one of her magazines, and made a batch to see if I would like them. I LOVED them and they became my favorite homemade cookie.
This is not Mom’s recipe but is maybe even better. I’ve adapted this recipe from Stevia: Naturally Sweet Recipes for Desserts, Drinks and More! by Rita DePuydt (1). This is the cookbook that taught me how to use stevia, and I am forever in her debt.
Because of my insulin resistance, I avoid processed sugars as much as possible. Thus this recipe uses the natural sweetness of dates, with a bit of stevia for the filling, and maple syrup (or honey) to sweeten and bind the crust. The fiber in the dates, oats, and whole grain flour help to slow down the digestion of the sugars to avoid blood-sugar spiking, as long as you don’t overdo and eat the whole pan in one sitting!
Refer to Stevia (About) for tips on working with this sweetener, or to Unprocessed & minimally-refined sugars (about) and Processed sugars (about) for other sweeteners. Refer to Wheat Flours (About) and Other True Grains (about) for more information on whole grain flours and rolled oats, respectively.
I use Sweet Leaf brand of stevia extract powder; the amounts of sweetener indicated in this recipe are based upon this brand and my own taste. Different brands have different sugar equivalence, so you may need to experiment with the amounts.
I use whole spelt flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe because spelt is sweeter and nuttier.
Makes 12 – 15 bars, depending on how you cut it.
Ingredients & Equipment
- 1 1/2 cup chopped dates (not packed)
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp lemon juice, preferable fresh squeezed
- 1/4 tsp Sweet Leaf brand of stevia extract powder (or 1/4 – 1/3 cup Rapadura or white cane sugar)
- pinch unrefined sea salt
- 2/3 cup filtered water
- Crust & Topping
- 3/4 cup rolled or steel-cut whole oats (not the quick-cooking or instant oatmeal products)
- 1 cup whole spelt flour (or wholewheat pastry flour)
- 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut or 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (about 1/8″ size)
- 1/4 tsp Sweet Leaf brand stevia extract powder (or 1/4 – 1/3 cup Rapadura or white cane sugar)
- 1/8 tsp unrefined sea salt
- 6 Tbsp coconut oil, softened or melted
- 2 Tbsp Grade-B Organic maple syrup
- baking pan: 8″ square, or 6 x 10″ rectangular pan.
- 2 medium bowls
- rubber or silicone spatula
- cooling rack
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F
- Using butter or coconut oil, grease a 8” square, or a 6 x 10” rectangular pan, and set aside.
- Chop the dates and place in saucepan. Grate lemon zest and add to dates.
- Squeeze 1 tsp juice from the lemon; add stevia (if using) and stir until the stevia rissoles. Add to dates.
- Filling: Add water and salt to saucepan and cook over low heat until creamy, stirring and adding more water as necessary to keep it creamy.
- Meanwhile, prepare the crumb crust/topping mixture.
- Crust & Topping: Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with fingers to distribute.
- Add coconut oil and maple syrup, and blend well using your fingers. It will start out feeling quite wet, but your fingers will help work the oil into the grain, making it more dry and crumbly.
- Assembly & Baking: Press 2/3 of the oat mixture into bottom of the oiled pan, reserving the remaining oat mixture for a topping.
- Spoon date mixture over crust and even out with rubber or silicone spatula.
- Crumble remaining oat mixture over dates. Using a fork, press topping into dates.
- Bake 30 minutes in preheated oven. Remove and cool thoroughly in pan on wire rack before cutting into squares or rectangles.
- Stevia: Naturally Sweet Recipes for Desserts, Drinks and More! by Rita DePuydt, copyright 2002 by the author, and published by Book Publishing Company, Summertown TN