Date Bars, September 1945

Date Bars, 1945

The war is over, and Katish (a Russian cook for a California family) has dates in her backyard. This recipe feels like it’s from the 1950s, not the 1940s,  I think because it uses crumbled graham crackers instead of flour. Of course, I managed to get out of the grocery store yesterday without graham crackers, so I was left with three choices:

  • (1) Go back to the store. Totally out of keeping with the “use what you have” feel of the recipe.
  • (2) Use Annie’s Bunny Grahams. They *are* graham crackers, but they are also expensive and Emi wanted to eat them instead.
  • (3) Use some of the Giant Costco Box of Organic Animal Crackers and estimate how many of those is 14 graham crackers.


I went with #3, and smashed Pooh and Friends into bits for a little while before I realized that I could use the food processor. That made things go much faster. I ground too much, of course, since I was estimating animal crackers by weight—until I realized that the book editors had helpfully done that experimenting and informed me in a footnote that I wanted 1.25c of crumbs.

Great! 160g instead of the 200g I had guessed (so it probably wouldn’t have been a disaster, either way). Then I put the dates in the food processor. I don’t have a date tree, since I live in New England, so I had to buy mine from Trader Joe’s. I realized 20s into chopping them that they are not *pitted*. Conveniently, it was pretty easy to find the pits in the date mush. Edit: I did miss a couple, and found them in the bars. Also, this method is not recommended for the long life of your food processor blade.

— Modern Adaptations —

This recipe is the most adaptable to dietary restrictions I’ve found in the book so far. It is dairy-free by default (the editors suggest buttering the pan, but I used my oil sprayer instead of messing around with melting butter. Katish just says “grease well”), and could*totally* be made gluten-free if you used gluten-free cookies. The walnuts could be replaced or possibly removed to make it nut-free—the only thing I can’t imagine replacing are the three eggs. I think you’d need a Miracle of Modern Chemistry to replace that binding effect.

— Results! —

These turned out *really* good. Like, “oh, I don’t have a date bar in my mouth, let me get a date bar” good. I’m going to be making them again. The only thing I would do differently (and that I did for half of them) is bake for an extra 10-15m. They were super-gooey and pale after 25 minutes, and after 15 more were nicely rich and browned. However, using the toaster oven to try to brown them before eating or warm them back up just results in burned powdered sugar. (They get tossed in powdered sugar while still warm, after cutting) I will be making these again!


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