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Recipe: Holiday Date Bars

December 18, 2013


Recipe:  Holiday Date Bars Add a Sweet Touch to Christmas


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



            For decades of Christmases, alongside a large tray of pineapple squares (refer to post of November 13) was always festive trays of my mother’s date bars.  As long as I could remember, my mother made the date bars.  While I put the dates and walnuts through the food chopper for her, I never thought to ask her where she found the recipe for one of my favorite treats of the holiday season.  Fortunately, my sister who lives in Colorado does remember the source of this family recipe.  Much to my surprise, my mother significantly altered a recipe for “Date Bars” from an old Crisco cookbook.  Although my sister still has my mother’s Crisco cookbook—the cover, first few pages, and the final few pages are missing; thus, we, unfortunately, do not know the copyright date of the cookbook.  My guess is that the cookbook was published in the 1940s or earlier.  The most daring change my mother made to the recipe was adding two cups of flour to the original recipe.  The recipe which I share below is the recipe as my mother revised it.  This holiday treat is much easier and quicker to make than the recipe for Mrs. Pickard’s Pineapple Squares.



Mother’s Holiday Date Bars




two cups (pitted) dates

two cups walnuts

two cups powdered sugar (plus extra powdered sugar for coating the baked bars)

four eggs

one cup milk

two tablespoons melted Crisco

two tablespoons lemon juice or vanilla

2-1/2 cups flour

one teaspoon baking powder

one teaspoon salt





1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and grease jelly roll pan (10”-by15”-by1”).


2.  Put dates and nuts through food chopper.


3.  In a large bowl, add sugar and beaten eggs to date mixture; mix well.


4.  Add melted Crisco, flavoring, flour, baking powder, and salt; mix thoroughly.


5.  Spread evenly into a greased jelly roll pan.


6.  Bake for thirty minutes at 325 degrees.  (When done, the date bars will be golden brown; and the edges should pull away slightly from the pan.)


7.  While the baked date recipe is still hot, cut into bars (approximately two-thirds of an inch by two inches); while the bars are warm, roll in extra powdered sugar (if desired).


8.  When the date bars have cooled, store in an air-tight plastic container.


Additional Sweet Treats for the Holidays


Wassail—Hoosier Style:  posted on December 4

Mrs. Pickard’s Pineapple Squares:  posted on November 13

Cranberry Calico Cake and Frosting:  posted on November 6

Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookies:  posted on September 5

Cherry Holiday Squares:  posted on February 22,


Main dish or side dish—Dad’s Polenta with bagnetto:  posted on April 6


Enjoy the sweet smells and tastes of the holidays!

Best wishes for a sweet holiday season and a blessed Christmas!

Alice and Leader Dog Zoe


December 18, 2013, Wednesday



Post-script:  Thanks to my sister, Mary Elizabeth, who double-checked the date bar recipe for me.



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One Comment
  1. You have taken me back to the kitchen in our Indiana home by sharing so many of Mother’s delicious traditional recipes, Alice! Thanks for the holiday memories.
    Love, Mary

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