they are also very popular in quebec where they are called carrés aux dattes or matrimonial squares [cake] in other parts of the country.
340 g [3/4 lb] dried dates
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c coarsely ground walnuts, optional
1/2 c shredded coconut, optional
1 c cake flour or AP
1/2 c wholewheat flour
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/4 c wheat germ, optional
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c margarine or butter
cut up dates and place in pan with orange juice, water and brown sugar over medium heat.
cook and mash until you get a paste. remove from heat and add vanilla. add optional ingredients if wanted. i like to toast the walnuts and coconut beforehand to add extra flavour. set aside to cool.
mix the dry ingredients together and then add the margarine or butter.
with your hand, mix everything together to get a crumbly mixture.
preheat the oven to 350 F.
spread 1/2 the mixture in the bottom of an 8 x 8 [or 9 x 9] pan. press down to pack.
carefully spread the date paste over the base.
spread the rest of the crumb mixture over the top of the paste and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
let cool. i like to refrigerate them for the date paste to firm up to make cutting a bit easier. also note that i used a lot more than the 'called for' amount of dates here [i wanted to use up the rest of the package!]. your date layer will be thinner.