Soft Date & Oat Bars

Choosing a recipe to bake from the Sweet cookbook is like having to pick one of your cats as the favorite (which is impossible, just so you know). I have bookmarked more than 50 recipes from this book and I've only gotten to 5 so far. If only eating desserts was considered healthy.....or alternately, if I had people who would come by and take my desserts so I could keep baking new stuff. I really need to figure out a way to share these goodies so I can explore more recipes!
I had originally been planning on baking the Persian Love Cakes today, which are naturally gluten free. I wanted to share that with a friend who is gluten free but it turned out I won't be seeing him until next week. So I decided to go with plan B, and make something I could pass of as breakfast ;)
These date bars are chock full of goodies and provide both crispy and chewy texture. They go amazingly well with some tea (hence, breakfast). I suppose you could add some fruit and yogurt to round it out if you are like me and insist on having it first thing in the morning.

Recipe adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh
Makes 16 bars

50 gm almonds
50 gm cashews
240 gm old fashioned rolled oats
70 gm sunflower seeds
20 gm sesame seeds
120 gm pitted Medjoul dates, halved and each half sliced into 4-6 pieces
200 gm butter, cut into cubes
180 gm turbinado sugar
75 gm maple syrup
zest of one orange
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tsp ground cloves

Recipe Notes: I baked my bars at 375 F because my oven runs cold, except the bars did not come out soft/chewy like the original recipe intended it to (they were more crisp). I'll stick to 350 F for next time.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper. When the oven has preheated, bake the almonds & cashews for about 10 minutes, till golden brown. Chop coarsely and add to a medium bowl. Take 1 cup of the oats and coarsely grind it in a food processor (I accidentally ground it in a coffee grinder which made it a little finer than I would have liked but it still worked great!). Add it to the medium bowl with the nuts and the rest of the whole oats as well. Toast the sesame & sunflower seeds in a pan on medium high heat till a nice golden brown. take care not to burn. Put these seeds into the bowl with the oats and rest. Add the sliced medjoul dates to this bowl as well. In a small saucepan, heat butter, turbinado sugar, maple syrup & orange zest till the butter is melted. Don't worry about the sugar not dissolving completely. Take it off heat and add orange blossom water and ground cloves. Mix it in and pour this wet mixture over the dry mixture. Mix it thoroughly and tilt it into the prepared baking pan. Using a spatula level the surface and bake for 35 minutes till bubbling and a nice golden brown on top. It'll still look liquid-y, but don't worry it'll set up as it cools. Cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes and slice into 16 pieces. Let cool completely before taking out of the pan. If the bars come out crisp and you prefer a little chewy, microwave them for 15 seconds before eating. It also makes the butter all melty which enhances the taste.


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