I never met my husband’s Grandma Langhoff (aka Viola), but she had to be a pretty special lady. Any woman whose hubby (after they’ve been married for close to a lifetime) hugs her so tightly that her glasses get pushed up has got to be a goddess. (See next photo…..I’m told Grandpa Louie was quite the pistol, too.)
The first time I had Grandma Langhoff’s date bars, my husband was baking a bunch of things to give to his employees at Christmas.
You did read that right….. “My husband was baking……” He’s very good at baking which I’m grateful for because I’m not a big baker. Baking and dessert recipes have to be foolproof and easy for me.
When my hubby was making the date bars, my quiet (well, maybe not-so-quiet) response was: Eww.
I’ve never been a fan of dried fruit. Raisins, prunes and even sun-dried tomatoes give me pause. Fruit cake? Don’t even. Somehow, though I’ve fallen in love with dates. There were a few pieces of the date bars left after my hubby’s baking extravaganza and I couldn’t stop eating them! I later tried Medjool dates and they tasted like candy to me!
For someone who is not into baking or dessert-making, I love something sweet at the end of a meal. With dates, I can satisfy the craving and think I’m doing something good for myself!
On a recent trip to Costco, I spotted 3-pound bags of organic dried, pitted dates. Time to make Grandma Langhoff’s delicious and chewy date bars!
I can never leave a recipe alone as written. I wanted to update Viola’s date bars and make them more healthful. Instead of the regular white sugar Viola used in the date filling, I used coconut sugar which is not as sweet as white sugar and is lower on the glycemic index. I kept the brown sugar used in the crust and topping but substituted a cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of white flour.
These bars are not a total health overhaul, but little changes to your everyday diet go a long way!
Grandma Langhoff chopped the dates by hand because food processors probably weren’t around when she was alive. Chopping the dates is a sticky exercise but a worthwhile one. Whenever a package states “pitted,” don’t believe it. Be sure to check each one!
Hope you enjoy!
2 pounds unsulfured pitted dates (5 1/2 to 6 cups), finely chopped
1 cup water
1 cup coconut sugar
2 1/2 cups quick oatmeal
2 sticks salted butter (room temperature but not soft)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using the wrappers from the butter, lightly butter a 15 x 11 rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
Combine dates, water and coconut sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 5-7 minutes or until it turns a soft spreadable consistency. Let cool to room temperature.
Combine oatmeal, butter, flours, brown sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands until crumbly.
Press half the crust mixture firmly into the prepared baking sheet. Carefully spread date filling evenly over the bottom crust. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the top and lightly press filling on top of the date mixture so it sticks to the filling.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a light golden color.