Thick, soft and wonderfully gooey gluten free date squares. These bars are made with a buttery, oat and brown sugar cookie-like base topped off with a not-too-sweet date filling spiced with instant coffee and a sprinkling of cocoa powder. All of that topped with with a final dusting of the simple crisp topping. Naturally gluten free with vegan and oat free options available!
ARE OATS GLUTEN FREE? – LEARN MORE ABOUT GLUTEN FREE OATS
Did you know that date squares are also sometimes known as matrimonial bars? Apparently the crumb crust and topping brought together through the date filling symbolise two people solidifying their love and relationship through marriage. Sweet, right? (Don’t hate me for that pun!)
Funnily enough I learned that after making a batch on my wedding anniversary. It was only after I had a batch of bars baking in the oven that I looked up where Date Bars come from (Canada in case you didn’t know) and stumbled upon that little fun fact.
But enough of all the chit-cat – let’s get baking!
How to Make these Gluten Free Date Squares
Altogether these bars are very easy to make. The prep takes about 10 – 15 minutes tops without too much effort needed. The ingredients are all fairly straight forward and things you likely have on hand already. Dates are the most exotic ingredient needed here.
To make the filling – you’re going to need a blender. Simply add all of the filling ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth, or mostly smooth. I prefer leaving a few chunks of dates left intact for some added texture.
Unlike traditional date squares I added a couple of teaspoons of instant coffee and cocoa powder to my filling. Dates are very sweet and I think the coffee and the cocoa help to tone it down while bringing out additional highlight flavours. If you prefer, you can absolutely leave both of those out.
The Crust & Topping
I took a lot of inspiration from Blueberry Crumb Bars when making these date squares.
The crumble crust and topping and based on the same recipe – the main difference here is that I chose to use rolled oats in addition to all purpose flour for some added texture (similar to Raspberry Crumble Bars recipe). That being said, oats are not mandatory for this recipe! If oats are off the table for you, you can increase the amount of gf all purpose flour instead and you’re good to go. Check the recipe notes for amounts.
To make – simple whisk together all of your dry ingredients until combined, then stir in the melted butter until a soft, crumbly dough forms.
Once you’re ready, press about half of the dough into a prepared baking pan to form the crust then pour and smooth the date filling over the top. Finally, sprinkle the remaining crumble over the top of everything and that’s it! Place in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes.
Substitutions and Additions
How do I make these oat free?
- Instead of using 1 1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour and 1 1/4 cup roll oats, just use a total of 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour.
- If you’re making these for a friend or family member who follow a gluten free diet – make sure they can have oats or just make it oat free to be safe. Some celiacs still react to oats, even if they are labelled gluten free.
How do I make it dairy free?
- Just use a non dairy butter or coconut oil. If you use coconut oil just make sure it’s softened and mix it into the dough instead of melting it. Keep in mind that coconut oil will also make for a more crumbly crust.
Can I use another type of date?
- Technically yes, but you may need to tweak the recipe to accommodate different dates here. Medjool dates are larger and softer than most other types of dates. They also have a more caramel-y flavour that lends itself here well.
- If you use another type of date you’ll probably need to add more and your bars might not be quite as sweet.
- You can get creative adding things in with your filling for added flavour and texture. Chopped walnuts, candied ginger pieces and chocolate chips scattered throughout would all work well in here.
Gluten Free Date Squares
Thick, soft and wonderfully gooey gluten free date squares. These bars are made with a soft, buttery, oat and brown sugar cookie-like base topped off with a not-too-sweet date filling spiced with instant coffee and a sprinkling of cocoa powder. All of that topped with with a final dusting of the simple crisp topping.
- 10 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 cup (240 ml) warm water
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Crust & Topping
- 1 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend (175 g)
- 1 1/4 cup certified gluten free oats (115 g)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (165 g)
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup melted butter, dairy or non dairy (170 g) OR softened coconut oil (160 g)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly grease and line an 8x8inch square baking tin. Set aside.
- Add all of the filling ingredients to a blender and blend until mixed well. You can leave the filling chunky for added texture or blend until completely smooth if you prefer. Set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together the oats, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder until combined. Stir in the melted butter (or softened coconut oil) until a soft, crumbly dough forms.
- Spread half of the crust/topping mixture across the bottom of the prepared baking tin. Press firmly into the pan.
- Pour the blended up date mixture over the top of the crust. Smooth out the filling into an even layer.
- Sprinkle the remaining crumble topping over the filling. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the top has goldened. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving.
- Make it Oat Free: Omit the oats and use a total of 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour .
- Optional Add-Ins: You can get creative adding things in with your filling for added flavour and texture. Chopped walnuts, candied ginger pieces and chocolate chips scattered throughout would all work well in here. Instead of blending add-in in with the filling, mix them in towards the end so they stay intact.
- You can omit the instant coffee and the cocoa powder for a more traditional filling.
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