Sweet, sticky and chewy orange cinnamon date squares made with less sugar but all of the flavor. These squares are perfect for your morning coffee or for an afternoon snack.
I realized the other day just how much sugar I consume on any given day. I’m not going to tell you because man, it’s a lot. I’m not complaining about it and it’s probably never going to change- been there, done that- but I figured if I could make something with a leeeeettttle less sugar in it and still love it, then I probably should. I mean, I’m not really going out of my way to reduce it… we don’t really believe in diets or restriction in this house because, let’s be real, all that ever does is make you want it SO MUCH MORE. But if I’m makin’ something anyways and I can get away with putting a smidge less in, then I guess it isn’t so bad.
Dates do a pretty fine job of sweetening things up on their own since I’m fairly certain they’re pure sugar. At least, that’s what they taste like which is obviously why I love them so much. For these, I didn’t bother using the expensive medjool dates- those I save for eating alone or stuffed with peanut butter and chocolate… or wrapped in bacon and stuffed with goat cheese… or melty brie and honey… wait, what were we talking about?
Oh, right, date squares. Orange cinnamon date squares to be exact. Date squares made with regular, run of the mill dried dates that you simply cook down in a mixture of orange juice, water, orange zest and a bit of baking soda. Why the baking soda? I have no sweet clue. All I know is when I was a kid and I watched my mom make date squares, I saw her using baking soda in the sticky date filling so I followed suit. I added extra cinnamon to the crust because I was in a cinnamon kinda mood and I got a great deal on oranges at our market so I was putting them in basically everything I baked. I reduced the amount of sugar that would have gone in to my mom’s apple crisp (the same type of crumb/crust is used in these squares) and hoped for the best.
I kind of love them.
I got the approval from multiple people, my mother included, and I knew they were a keeper. I also knew they were a keeper when it was 3 am and I, once again, couldn’t sleep, and all I could think about was tip toeing to the fridge to eat a date square. This isn’t uncommon. I remember a day when I still lived at home and around, oh, 1 am I couldn’t sleep but was exhausted from a day selling our baking at the market (before we ever had our very own shop). I laid there, tossing and turning and eventually decided to creep in to the kitchen and grab a slice of banana bread that we had leftover. I ever so quietly unwrapped it, grabbed a piece, wrapped the rest back up and then tip toed back to my room where I very happily ate the bread and then promptly fell asleep. The next day my mom told me she had done the same thing but with a bag of chips. She had, with each handful, very quietly reached in the bag, trying not to ruffle it too much and ate handful after handful.
We both died laughing and questioned why we were trying to be so quiet about it and then never tip toed again. Oh, we still rummaged in the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning for scones and empire cookies, but we never did it so secretly again. Nobody ever believed us but I swear it happened and sometimes it does still happen. The only difference is I’m back to tip toeing because I have my own home and I actually just don’t want to wake Mark. He’s fully aware of the 3am trips to the fridge for leftover pizza, cheese, or whatever else I’m dying for at that moment.
My point is, these squares met my 3am criteria and you can bet your ass the first thing I did when I got up the next morning was go to the fridge and
eat inhale a date square. I didn’t even wait for coffee. Mostly because it takes a half hour to make two coffees every morning but that’s another story for another day.
For now I’ll just assure you that you need these orange cinnamon date squares in your life asap and that you must eat them cold, straight from the fridge or even the freezer. Yeah, that’s another weird thing I do with squares… the colder the better in my books!
- 2 cups dried, pitted dates, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp orange zest
- ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- ½ cup water
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup large flake oats (old fashioned will work too)
- 1 cup plus 3 TBSP all purpose or spelt flour
- 5 TBSP brown sugar
- 6 TBSP cane sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½-1 tsp cinnamon (whichever you prefer)
- pinch of cloves
- 10 TBSP melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Grease and/or line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan, heat dates, zest, juice, water and baking soda over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring until it forms a thick paste, about 5-10 minutes.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir until it all clumps together.
- Press half of the mixture in to the bottom of the pan to form a crust then pour entire date mixture over top.
- Top with remaining half of the crumble and press lightly.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden.
- Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack then remove and cut in to 12-16 squares (I cut 16).
- Store wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge or in the freezer.
Bars will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months and in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
Adjust the amount of cinnamon in the crust to your own liking.
You may also like…