Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008
Dear Diary:

There are two schools of thought vis-à-vis date squares.

One school opines that when you make the crumble that sandwiches the date filling, said crumble should be heavier on the rolled oats than the flour.

Obviously, this is the sound, progressive way of making date square, since this is the way *I* make date square.

My sister, on the other hand, insists that the crumble should have more flour than rolled oats. I know. I think I speak for us all when I say that such wrong-headed thinking is hard to believe.

If we didn't look so much alike, I would have to posit that my parents were given the wrong baby at the hospital. However, since our physical resemblance rules that out, all I can say is that it's clear that at some point in her development our parents failed her.

It's one of those family tragedies.

Normally, I try to avert my eyes from this issue, but this weekend when we spoke on the phone my sister mentioned that she had made a date square. She flaunted that she had made it The Wrong Way, because she knows my deeply held date square beliefs.

Galling. The woman is galling.

I tried to brush it off, oh but I tried, but this morning I woke up and decided that I had to restore order in the universe. HAD TO.

So I made a date square, to counter the darkness, the wrongness that is her Anti-Date Square. If you feel compelled to also counter my sister's darkness, here is the way to do it:

THE ONE TRUE DATE SQUARE

Accept no substitutes

The Crumble:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
¾ cup soft butter (1 ½ sticks)
pinch o' salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour to make this a bit more healthy. It adds a nutty sort of flavour.)

The Filling:

Here at MarnCo Labs, a wholly owned subsidiary of MarnCo, the ruthless multinational behind the Big Adventure, there has been some serious tweakage of the filling recipe. If you are more of a date square classicist, then you'll find that the quantities below make a perfectly adequate vein of date:

1 lb. of dates stewed in 1 cup of boiling water until thick with
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. lime juice (substitute lemon juice if you don't have it—the slight zing makes the dates sing.)

As I said, perfectly adequate. However, the spousal unit and I are aficionados of the date, so I stew 1 ½ lbs. of dates in 1 ½ cups of water, which gives me a very piggy generous filling. I adjust the vanilla extract and lime juice accordingly.

The crumble works best if you mix all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the brown sugar separately in one bowl. Cream the butter and brown sugar in their own bowl, then dump the dry stuff in and mix it with your hands until you get a crumble.

Split the crumble in two, and put half of it into the bottom of a 9" square cake pan. Pat it down with a fork. Smear the date goodness on top. Crumble the crumble over that. If you want to get the date square out easily, you can anoint the pan with a non-stick spray before filling it.

Into the oven it goes at 350 degrees until it's browned, which takes about 30 minutes.

Like I said, The One True Date Square.

Accept no substitutes.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 80.11 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles


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