There are certain recipes that I look at and immediately know that I have to make them. This recipe for maple date bars was one of those. I first saw this recipe about a month ago in an e-newsletter I receive from My Recipes. I saved it on one of my Pinterest boards so I could easily locate it whenever I decided to make it. This past weekend was that time...and it was a happy time. :) Boy are these bars tasty! I love dates (I talked about my love of dates back when I made these layered oatmeal date bars. That was this past January and I hadn't baked with dates since then! Not good. It was about time they were incorporated into a delicious creation again...welcome, maple date bars! These are a Cooking Light recipe too (so less guilt!!).
-1 and 3/4 cup finely chopped pitted dates
-3/4 cup water
-1/3 cup pure maple syrup
-1 tsp. grated lemon rind (I actually omitted this because I didn't realize I didn't have lemon on hand)
-2/3 cup sugar
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 cup regular oats
-1/4 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dates, water, and maple syrup in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook for 12 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in rind; cool completely.
Beat butter and sugar together in mixing bowl on medium speed. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture (mixture will be crumbly). Firmly press two cups of the flour mixture into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Spread the cooled date mixture evenly over the bottom layer, and then sprinkle the remaining flour mixture on top. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown. Cool completely in pan before cutting. Store bars wrapped individually in an airtight container or place between layers of wax or parchment paper in an airtight container.
Overall these bars were suuuper simple to make. The most time consuming part was cooking the dates on the stove, but that definitely wasn't difficult. Truly, these were very easy to make, and they got rave reviews! I made them for a beer tasting event Mike was hosting. Friends who come to his beer tastings have quite the refined palates, so if they liked them, they've got to be good, right?! ;)