Author Notes: My Italian, grandma Manocchio (God Rest Her Soul), being the amazing cook and baker that she was for 93 years, use to make delicious date bars for my mom when she was a child (and my aunt, my grandpa...and anyone she could seat at her table!). They were just one of the many sweet baked treats in her repertoire she whipped up regularly for family and friends to enjoy! And, enjoy they did, but usually without my grandma seated at the table with them as she almost never ate any of her baked good. She just wasn't one for sweets as she would remind us in her Italian accent. Her joy was in serving them to those she loved and deriving pleasure from watching them be devoured.
This vegan version of my grandma Manocchio's date bars is classic in nature, like hers were, and every bit as indulgent but with a slightly healthy twist. Even so, I think they would make her quite proud, and my loved ones enjoy them with as much enthusiasm as those who enjoyed her date bars (Seriously, just ask my mom who is an expert extraordinaire on my grandma's original date bars!) Unlike my grandma Manocchio, however, I find myself seated at the table, devouring these delicious bars right along side my loved ones. Enjoy! —The Italian In Me
Makes: 24 bars
pound Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
cup distilled or filtered water
3/4 to 1
cups organic cane sugar (less or more depending on sweetness desired)
tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
cups organic rolled oats (not quick cooking)
cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
cups organic dark brown sugar
teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
teaspoon baking soda
cups vegan butter alternative (such as Earth Balance), melted
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan (I use a straight sided one) and set aside.
- Add the chopped dates and water to a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, turn heat down to low and cook for 5 minutes (until dates are softened).
- Stir in the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture back to a simmer and cook for one minute (sugar should be completely dissolved).
- Set date mixture aside and allow to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the dry ingredients
- Drizzle the melted butter in to the dry ingredients and gently stir to evenly combine.
- Place half of the crumb mixture in the bottom of the pan and gently press down on it until it is evenly spread out to the edges of the pan.
- Place the cooled date mixture on top and gently spread it out evenly.
- Add the remaining half of the crumb mixture to the top of the date mixture and spread it out evenly, to the edges of the pan, while gently pressing down on it.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. The top should be just slightly golden brown and the edges a bit caramelized.
- Cool on a wire rack to room temperature before cutting in to 24 bars for finger desserts or 12 bars for individual desserts served with vanilla, vegan "ice cream".