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Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x9 casserole dish or baking pan with parchment paper so you can easily lift the squares out when cooked. Grease remainder of pan.
Pit and chop dates. A rough chop is fine, the dates turn into a paste for the most part.
In a small pot, combine dates, water, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir frequently over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until dates start to fall apart and turn into a paste.
Once the dates are melted down into a paste, mix in pumpkin puree and baking soda. Set aside while you prepare the oat crumble base.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and baking powder. Mix until combined.
Add in pumpkin puree and butter. If the butter is too hard to mix, warm it for 20 seconds. Mix ingredients well, working with your hands if needed to combine things. The oat crumble should be the texture of granola but softer!
Pour about half of the oat crumble into the bottom of the casserole dish. Spread it out in a thin even layer, and pack down.
Top the oat crumble base with the date filling. Spread out in an even layer, edge to edge.
Let the oat crumble base and date filling sit for a few minutes if it is not already cooled. Then top the date filling with the remainder of the oat crumble.
Gently spread it out to cover the date filling, don't pack it down too much, this layer should be more loose and crumbly than the bottom oat layer.
Bake for 1 hour at 350 or until oat crumble top looks golden and crispy.
Let the date squares cool for at least 4 hours in the fridge before cutting and serving! Refrigerate overnight for best results. The cooler and more firm they are, the better!
I chopped each date into about 4 pieces. The date paste filling wasn’t overly chunky, but if you want a more consistent and thin paste, you can chop the dates smaller, or food process the date paste before using in the bars. I personally prefer to have some texture in the paste, it’s also easier to just use them directly from the stovetop.
The pumpkin puree in the oat crumble is optional. If you decide to make a plain oat crumble without pumpkin puree, add more butter to compensate. The end result won’t be quite as festive, but it makes them relevant year-round!
I cut this recipe into 16 squares and they were very generous servings! They could be cut a bit smaller depending on the occasion.
I found the oat crumble very sweet, especially when combined with dates. If you want a healthier /lighter version of this recipe, you can omit the sugar, or at least reduce it in the oat crumble. The natural sweetness of the dates is enough to make this a nice sweet treat. If you love sweet desserts, the original recipe is for you!
These date squares freeze really well. Store some in a Tupperware in the freezer for delicious baked goods on demand. I’ve eaten these out of the fridge for up to 4 days and they tasted fresh!
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