Oatmeal date squares

My daughter is going to college full-time  and working (tutoring English in a remedial school here) and comes home famished; these oatmeal and date bars should help, don’t you think?

By the way, if you have a Middle-Eastern grocer nearby, they most likely stock date paste in a package, saving you the trouble of making your own.

Date paste:

  • 3 cups of dates
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of rose water or vanilla


Place the dates, water and butter in a saucepan; stir from time to time over very gentle heat until the dates soften, for 20 minutes or so. Let the mixture cool then transfer to the bowl of a food processor and purée the mixture.

Oatmeal dough


• 3 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal 

• 1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

• 1/2 tsp of baking soda

• 1 tsp of baking powder

• dash of salt

• 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

• 1/2 tsp of cardamom

• 1/2 tsp of dukkat al-kaak (a mixture of fennel and anise and ginger)(optional)

• 1 large egg

• 4.5 oz of unsalted butter (125 g.)

• 1 packed cup of dark brown sugar (200 g.)

• 1/3 cup of tahini

• 1/4 cup of grape molasses (or honey)

Extra tahini to smear the pan


1. In a medium bowl, measure the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and dukkat al-kaak.Mix with a fork or a wire whisk to combine. Measure the 3 cups of oatmeal in another bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor or mixer, place the softened butter, tahini, egg, brown sugar and grape molasses; process into a smooth mixture, then add the flour then the oatmeal to combine into a dough. 

3. Smear the bottom and sides of a 9X9 inch pan and pat half the oatmeal dough into the pan. Slather the date paste over the bottom layer of dough. Spread the remaining dough onto a square piece of foil (to fit into the pan); holding the foil, flip it onto the top of the date paste to cover. Peel off the foil and tuck the oatmeal dough in place over the date paste, patching corners here and there with extra dough.

4. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until the squares are puffed up a bit and dry. Serve at room temperature or warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

 NOTE: These can also be baked in a 9X13 pan and you would get thinner squares but more of them!

The American University in Beirut is the oldest American university ever outside the US (1864).

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  1. Posted August 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Those look AMAZING! I’m doing to try them. Your daughter is very lucky to have these waiting on her when she gets home.

  2. Posted August 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Congrats to your daughter! I know her belly fully satisfied after a day of teaching. Cheers to these oatmeal date squares.


  3. Posted August 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    These look gorgeous and sound delicious! Do they turn out chewy and sticky, or crisp and crunchy when cooked?

  4. Posted August 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I dare say – these are perfect for a busy young woman!

  5. Posted August 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    What a lucky girl to be greeted by such a sweet and hearty snack after a long day’s work. That is a neat picture of the university.

  6. Angel of the North
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    This is an interesting spin on the traditional Scottish date slices, which are generally done in a rectangular traybake pan.. We would use lemon, rather than rosewater with the dates, though. I love most Lebanese tastes apart from rosewater. Trying to figure out how to do the mixture without a food processor.

  7. Joumana
    Posted August 24, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    @Angel of the North: You can do it in a mixer, a mouli (that manual thing that the French use to make their mashed potatoes), or use an immersion blender.

  8. Joumana
    Posted August 24, 2012 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    @Oui, Chef: these turned out chewy and sticky.

  9. Posted August 24, 2012 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    Mmmm so good, can I be your daughter for a day?

  10. Posted August 24, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Joumana, this recipe is a keeper! (Like all your recipes.) I’m going to try it with dried figs as I have those on hand and then the next batch with medjool dates…um um good.

  11. Posted August 25, 2012 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Cela fait un petit moment que je n’ai pas cuisiné de pâte de dattes. Une recette bien gourmande.
    Tu me diras quand ton livre sur la cuisine irakienne paraîtra. Une cuisine qui m’intéresse beaucoup.
    A bientôt

  12. Posted August 26, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    It astonishes me that you have grown-up children! Either that picture of you is quite old or your skin is absolutely amazing! These squares look like perfect sustaining energy food.

  13. Joumana
    Posted August 26, 2012 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    @Alicia: ahem, the pic is 2 years old; I need to update it, but thanks! these squares were great, already gone!

  14. Jacqueline
    Posted August 26, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Joumana !! les gateaux sont super bons !! les filles et moi nous disputons les dernières parts … bises

  15. Joumana
    Posted August 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    @jacqueline: je suis triste que tu repartes déjà pour Paris.

  16. Steve
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Made these this afternoon.

    My fussy daughter who doesn’t like dates
    took 1/2 the pan for her and her husband.

    Thanks for posting.

  17. Joumana
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    @Steve: So glad to hear this! (came up with the recipe after I realized I wanted to get rid of a bunch of dates!)

  18. Michael Kplus
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    wow, these are lovely…I could have eaten the date paste on its own and I think this something I am gonna combine with other things, for example sandwich it between cookies.

    I especially like the combination of dried fruit and butter. I recently made some fig butter from Kim Boyces cookbook “Good to the Grain”, which used a similar method, however had red wine and port as a liquid to cook the figs in. The addition of butter made it simply divine.

    I think I am gonna try to make this again with chopped nuts in the dough.

    I have one question regarding the dukkat al-kaak. Is this a spice mix you made up or is it a traditional Lebanese spice mix? I used 1/3 of each ginger, fennel and anise.

  19. Joumana
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    @Michael: The dukkat al-kaak is a traditional mix; it is found in Middle-Eastern grocery stores in the US and Canada. It has also mahlab and a bit of mastic in it.

  20. Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Carrément gourmandes ces p’tites barres croustillantes à l’avoine….

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