By Susan LaRosa
Dates were a big thing in recipes from this era because people didn't have access to fresh fruit all year round. These bars come from the cookbook that started it all, Mrs. Osborn's Cakes of Quality. I find it fascinating that there's a chapter instructing women how to sell cakes for a profit -- pretty unexpected advice for a book published in 1919.
Work: 20 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
1 pound (3 cups) pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimless baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. To make filling, in a saucepan bring to a boil dates, brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water; simmer until dates are soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool while you make the dough.
3. In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl beat butter and granulated sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Stir in rolled oats. Add dry ingredients alternately with 1/2 cup warm water and mix well (dough will be very stiff, so it is best to mix it with your hands).
4. On a floured surface roll dough into two 10-inch squares. Transfer one square to baking sheet and spread date mixture evenly to the edges; cover with the other square. Cut into 2-by-3-inch pieces. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Makes 15 cookies.