This delicious and easy bar recipe is a little variation on these dried cherry bars I posted about back in the spring. It was going to be hard to beat that Archive recipe, but I really wasn’t hoping to do so. I just wanted another little friend to accompany me for dessert and afternoon snacks.
I came upon some really delicious dates in the refrigerated section of my favorite food procurement establishment, and I couldn’t wait to try them out in these bars. Those dates were caramel-y sweet, chewy, sticky and fruity; a real eye-opening experience to someone accustomed to dry packaged dates whose sugars have nearly crystallized (not that I’d turn those down). It was hard not to just save them for eating out of hand. I’m a cookie girl, however, so the idea of using the fabulous dates in a recipe was going to prevail.
I cut back on the sugar compared to the cherry-oatmeal bars, partly because such was suggested in the original recipe, which called for cranberries, but gave suggestions for other dried fruit variations, including dates. Tasting my super-sweet dates, of course, only emphasized the wisdom of such a move. Half of the sugar I did add to the date-sour cream filling was in the form of brown sugar and the other half was maple syrup. I happened to find some Grade B maple syrup, which is stronger in flavor and can help enhance flavors more in baking. I cannot say that it really had a strong influence on the taste of the baked product, but it was all really good just the same.
Yup, I’m thrilled to have this delicious version of simple oatmeal bars, and the success of this recipe just inspired even more ideas for variations. Just about any dried fruit would work, I think. Could I use other forms of fruit besides dried fruits? Is there some way I could adapt this for fresh fruits? Could I use jam or applesauce? Could I get away with eating these at other times than dessert or afternoon snack time? Like breakfast? Sounds good to me!
Maple Date Oatmeal Bars
Based on a recipe in Cooking Light Magazine
For the crust and crumble topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup quick-cooking oats
8 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I used Grade B)
¾ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup chopped pitted dates
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray or grease it with butter. Set aside.
2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the 1 cup flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk together. Whisk in the ½ cup brown sugar. Add the oats and stir to combine well.
3. Pour in the melted butter and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir together until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. The mixture will be crumbly.
4. Reserve ½ cup of the oat mixture and set aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Set aside.
5. In another medium-size bowl, lightly beat the egg white. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons brown sugar, maple syrup, and sour cream until smooth. Whisk in the flour. Whisk in the 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the dates.
6. Pour the filling mixture over the crust in the baking pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over the filling, squeezing together to from clumps.
7. Bake at 325 F for 40-45 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
Makes about 16 bars.