Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grandma's Easy Date Squares Recipe

Date squares? Have you ever had one? Is it a dessert you associate with your great aunt Agnes? Date squares seem to have become something of an "old-fashioned" dessert. Date squares or matrimonial squares (some say because they were made with so many "dates". Get it? You gotta go on a lotta dates to get married???) as they are known in some parts of Western Canada have been around since at least the 1930s.
They are made from a layer of sweet, gooey dates that is sandwiched between two layers of buttery golden oats.
My mom used to make them when I was a kid but I hadn't thought much about them since then. That is, until my 9 year old son saw a bag of dates at the grocery store. He wanted to try them. They were on sale so I bought two bags since my brain flickered with the idea of date squares. Turns out my son didn't like dates straight out of the bag (no surprise). That left me with two bags of dates and the brain flicker turned into a brighter light (luckily I didn't have the urge to walk into it).

I knew the kids would love the oat mixture - it's pretty much a crumble topping but I wasn't sure about the dates in the middle. Would the texture be appealing? In a word. YES. Yes, it would . Granted the dates are mixed with enough sugar to make them sweet and delicious and taste bud friendly to almost anyone.

I think date squares deserve a new minute in the sun, another 15 seconds of fame and it starts right here. Try this recipe. Let me know what you think of them. I know you'll love them (so will your great aunt Agnes so be sure to share)!


2 cups dates
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup brown sugar (can reduce or increase this amount to suit tastes)

1-1/2 cups large flake oats
1-1/4 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon


Fruit Mixture:

  1. Place dates, water, juice, baking soda and sugar in sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Using a fork or potato masher, squish the date mixture a bit to form a coarse paste.
  6. Cool.

Oat Mixture:

  1. In large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
  2. Mix with hands,
  3. Cut butter into 1 inch pieces and add to bowl.
  4. Using your hands, rub and mix butter and other ingredients together until you have a  crumbly mixture that will hold together if squeezed.

Making the squares:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non stick spray.
  3. If desired, line with parchment or nonstick foil, letting it hang over edges for easier removal later. 
  4. Place half of oat mixture in bottom of dish and use your hands to firmly press mixture evenly over bottom.
  5. Add all of the cooled date mixture on top of crumble and spread evenly (I use an offset spatula).
  6. Add rest of oat mixture over dates.
  7. Gently press down to cover fruit.
  8. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  10. Either cut in pan or remove by pulling overhanging foil.
  11. Cut into desired number of squares.


  1. Date squares... so tasty and home-y :) I love eating them, especially with a cup of earl grey tea!

  2. Yum! I grew up in eastern Canada with date squares as a staple sweet treat. Loved them then and still do! I actually never see them now that I'm living in Edmonton and hadn't thought of making them before now. Will definitely give your recipe a try :)

  3. I'm always excited when my mother makes a batch of her matrimonial squares. Yours look wonderful!

  4. Made these tonight and they are great! Thank you