While reacquainting myself with the Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates cookbook I came across their recipe for spiced coconut date bars. I thought they would fit in with our holiday party buffet offerings so I set out to make the recipe. The results are pretty tasty.
Here’s my version of their recipe. I’ve adjusted the amounts and written the recipe up in my own words.
Coconut Date Bars
Servings: 25 pieces
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes (plus 30 minutes to cool after baking)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 12 oz. Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 200g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup “old-fashioned” rolled oats (not instant or 1 minute oats)
- zest and juice from one tangerine
- 1/2 cup unsweeted coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 8″ square baking pan with baking spray.
- Spread chopped pecans in a single layer on an unoiled sheet pan and transfer to the oven. Cook for 6 minutes, shaking pan every two minutes. When you can smell the nuts they are probably done. They should be lightly browned. Set aside for the moment.
- In a medium saucepan combine dates and 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occassionally until the dates are soft.
- Combine the flour, spices and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk gently to combine.
- While the dates are simmering away you can make the crust & topping (it’s the same mixture). Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of stand mixer with a paddle attachement. Turn on to low to combine and then turn to medium for 5 minutes until butter has lightened in color. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture; beat until combined. Add the oats and pecans; beat until combined. The result will be a crumbly mixture with lots of lumps.
- Meanwhile, back to the dates. When they are done add the tangerine zest/juice and the coconut. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Dump about two-thirds of the crust into the baking pan and use the buttom of a measuring cup or glass to compact it into a firm layer. Spread the date mixture over the crust. Crumble the final third of the crust mixture over the top of the date mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The top should pick up a golden hue and the edges may turn dark brown when the dish is done. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Use a knife to cut around the edge of the bars. Then cut the bars into 5 columns and finally 25 squares.
I found the easiest way to cut the bars was to transfer them to a cutting board. You’ll actually need 2 cutting boards to accomplish this. After cutting around the edges of the pan to loosen the bars place the first cutting board over the pan. Hold the pan and board together and flip the pan upside down. Gently lift the pan; the date bars should stay on the cutting board. Now place the second cutting board on top of the date bars and, again, flip the bars upside down. Remove the first cutting board and the date bars should be upside right with the crumb topping on top.