Chewy Date Squares

Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

I ate a lot of Fig Newtons as a kid. Since my very health-conscious parents didn’t allow us to tiptoe into the “dangerous” world of actual cookies, they were as close to dessert as we got. I still have such a soft spot for them, and these chewy squares are very reminiscent of the store-bought variety, only easier to make at home. Dates accomplish a similar texture and flavor profile as figs, but are a little sweeter and also have a smoother (no seeds!) consistency, which I like in the filling.

Using whole-wheat flour gives the outside of the square that wonderfully nutty taste that I always associate with Fig Newtons, and coconut oil (rather than butter) gives the cookie that classic soft, squishy texture.

Instead of making individual squares with the cookie wrapped around the filling as Fig Newtons are shaped, this recipe takes a simpler approach: Just press half the dough into the pan, spread the filling on top, then top with the rest of the dough. You get the same sandwiched experience to the cookie without the fuss and bother of piping the filling and rolling the dough up around it.

If you want to play around with the flavors, try adding a touch of cinnamon or cardamom to the cookie dough. Another route is to add some spice to the filling: You can try black pepper, star anise, or five-spice powder.
Posie (Harwood) Brien

  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes one 9- x 13-inch pan
  • For the cookie:
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (141 grams) coconut oil, chilled until firm
  • 1/4 cup (53 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (85 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the filling:
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 pound pitted dates
  • 1 cup (227 grams) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In This Recipe
  1. Make the dough: Beat together the coconut oil and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and honey, and beat until well combined.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar mixture and mix until the dough just comes together.
  3. Divide the dough in half, press both halves into a disc, wrap them in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour (you can speed this up by popping them in the freezer for 20 minutes).
  4. While the dough chills, make the filling: Place the orange zest and juice, dates, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 6 minutes, then transfer (carefully!) to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth and thick. Set aside to let cool slightly.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and press one half of it into the bottom of a lightly greased 9- x 13-inch pan. Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Roll out the second half of the dough to a rectangle roughly the size of your pan then gently place it on top of the filling and use your fingers to press it into place so it covers all the filling.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden on top. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving.

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  • student epicure
    student epicure
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
  • suzngyn
  • Leigh
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.