Cranberry Date Squares are based on an old fashioned, homemade treat that most Canadian kids have grown up enjoying.
What is a Date Square?
A date square is a simple and easy to make treat, with a date filling sandwiched between two layers of buttery oats. It's a dessert that dates back to, at least, the nineteen-thirties, according to recipes that have been discovered.
Date Squares: A Classic Canadian Treat
The origins of the date square are not really clear. This treat is, however, a familiar one to Canadians from coast to coast. In the Maritime provinces on the east coast, they call them date crumbles. And in western Canada, Matrimonial Cake is another name for these delicious squares.
Why is it called Matrimonial Cake?
While I was unable to find the answer to why date squares are called matrimonial cake, I did come across several theories. My favourite; Two separate layers brought together with dates leads to weddings.
Why Cranberry Date Squares?
Date Squares are a true classic, and they are delicious. So why, you may ask, do I want to mess with a good thing by adding cranberries? Dates are dense and intensely sweet, so the cranberries balance that sweetness with a little bit of tartness in the filling.
The cranberries really add a bright and tasty element to these cranberry date squares.
Dates are the fruit of the date palm, which is native or cultivated in many tropical areas around the world, most especially, the Middle East, where dates have been a staple food for centuries. In North America, almost all the dates that we buy are dried. The most common varieties available to us are Medjool and Deglet Noor. Learn more about dates here: The truth about dates
Are Dates a Healthy Food?
Dates are very nutritious. They're high in fibre and antioxidants, as well as potassium, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and copper. Dates are75 percent fructose, making them one of the sweetest foods in nature.
This means dates are a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth without resorting to empty-calorie treats. Those natural sugars mean that dates are perfect for sweetening recipes without using refined sugar, like these Chocolate Cranberry Hemp Energy Bars.
Looking for More Squares?
Try another delicious oatmeal square: Rhubarb Blueberry Oatmeal Bars
Or, here's another spin on a classic Canadian treat: Butter Tart Squares
And if a little spicy chocolate is what you're craving: Chili Chocolate Brownies
Cranberry Date Squares
- 8" square baking pan
- pastry blender
- 2 ½ cups rolled oats not instant
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ½ cup brown sugar packed
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup butter cold, cut into cubes
- 2 cups Medjool dates pitted and chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 cups water
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray
- In a saucepan, combine dates, cranberries, lemon juice and water.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened, stirring often, about 15 minutes, stirring often
- Set aside to cool
- In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, flour, almond flour, brown sugar, and salt
- With a pastry blender, cut in cubed butter, until a crumbly dough is formed
- Firmly press half of the dough into prepared pan
- Spread cooled filling evenly over the crust
- Sprinkle the remaining dough mixture over the filling, pressing to firm it
- Bake in center of oven until golden, about 45 minutes
- Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares