Posted by: Hallie | March 25, 2009

Maple-Date Bars: Look Ma, No Mixer!

date bars

I love me some Medjool dates. However, I’m a picky date eater. I only like the ones that are fat, super moist, and caramel-like in flavor (nothing but the best for me, I know). Two weeks ago, I bought a package of Medjool dates from Trader Joe’s, where I bought amazing dates in the past. This time, some were fine and some were dry and not too flavorful. I knew I wasn’t going to eat them, but didn’t want to be wasteful. Hello, baking project!

I looked online for a date-bar recipe that was easy, not too fattening, and for which I didn’t need to buy additional ingredients. I saw an old Cooking Light recipe for Maple-Date Bars, and it seemed to fit all my criteria. The only problem was that, like so many cookie/bar recipes, the instructions called for beating together sugar and butter. I don’t own a mixer, but I thought I’d give a try the old-fashioned way, with a wooden spoon and my own brute strength (haha).

It worked! I set the butter out overnight (that’s safe, right?) so it was easy to blend together with the sugar. I’d say it took maybe 30 seconds? Now that I know cookies and the like can be made without a mixer, I feel more confident to take on more baking experiments.

Like many others, I can easily overdo it on sweets, especially baked goods and especially homemade baked goods. I thought I’d share a few of my tips to keep from indulging on baked goods just because they are there (rather than indulging because I WANT to, which is perfectly acceptable.):

date bars in pan

  1. I left the bars in the pan for as long as I could (see above). I made these on Saturday, and even though I SO wanted to cut them up then, I waited until Sunday to slice them because I knew I was taking them to work on Monday.
  2. When I did take one, I took one of the smaller pieces. Of course I picked some (ok, all) of the crumbs left in the pan as I put them on the plate, so by taking a smaller piece, it evens out to one normal-sized piece in the end (I think?)
  3. When I brought them to work, I first took them to a few coworkers to sample (I sometimes need to bribe them in times of need. Neither they nor I have shame when it comes to dessert-for-favors exchanges).
  4. Then, I promptly took the plate to another floor. I knew if they were in my footpath, I’d be tempted to take another one, and I really only wanted the one I had eaten the day before.

Do you have any additional tips for keeping portion control in check when it comes to your baked goods? Do you give them away, store in the freezer, or are you able to “just say no” to having more than one or two at a time?

And the taste? They were WONDERFUL. I love Cooking Light recipes. I cut the maple syrup to 1/4 cup, and I couldn’t taste it. Next time I’ll omit completely; the dates are certainly sweet enough! The bottom part was crumbly (in a good way) and buttery, but I felt good knowing exactly how much butter was used for the recipe. And the date filling…well as mentioned I’m a bit of a date fan so of course I loved it. If you’re looking for a potluck recipe or a great non-chocolate dessert, give these bad boys a try!

date bars 2



  1. Wow, those look sinfully delicious!

  2. hallie – there are three selfcontained workouts in the shred (levels 1,2,3) and you are suppose to do level 1 until you can move to level 2, and level 2 until you can move to level 3. i have been doing 10 days of level 1, 10 of level 2, etc.

    my theory is that you can do the shred everyday unless your muscles are sore. if they are sore, you have torn the muscle (microscopicly) and it needs time to heal. otherwise, youre fine.

  3. OH!!!! The bars look soooo good!!!

  4. Those look delish – and yes, I have to portion mine out and stick them in the fridge/freezer to avoid overindulging… it’s not a foolproof method though!

  5. These look delicious.
    Oh and my boyfriends grandma stores butter in her cabinet not in her fridge, it grosses me out big time but she’s in her 80s and has always done it.

  6. I definetely usually give away some/most of the baked goods that I make! Otherwise, I am pretty good at limiting myself to 1 (or 2) a day until they are gone! A couple weeks ago I made oatmeal craisen cookies and found they were delicious crumbled on top of greek yogurt w/ blueberries so I had one a day for almost 2 weeks! I don’t feel bad about it at all! 🙂

    PS – Planning on making Date Bars this weekend now! I have a Costco size container I have been trying to get through! I made banana date bread last weekend and have been putting them in my oatmeal in the morning as well!

  7. these look amazing!!!! omg i love me some dates!

  8. those look amazingly delish. YUM!

    Great tips, by the way!

  9. I love Cooking Light! I also love dates. These bars look amazing!

  10. YUM! Those are great tips, too. It is so hard for me to have a whole tray of desserts in the house. I often have to give stuff away to coworkers, too. Or this book is great: Recipes for just one little cake, or 4 cookies, etc. Lots of used copies for sale! 🙂

  11. wow, that recipe looks delicious! way to experiment with no mixer — i always have to do stuff the old-fashioned way, too. my kitchen appliance situation is so limited!

    as for storing extra treats, i’m definitely a freezer girl. i can store things in there for months (though i do occasionally break down and eat several at a time without even letting them defrost, shhhh :P)

  12. I made these last weekend and they were delic! I used a 9×13 like the recipe called for and it seemed like they were a little thinner than I’d like. I cut it down to 1/4 c maple syrup, used wheat flour b/c that’s all I had, and only 1/2 a c of sugar. I think that b/c I used less sugar, the crumbly part on top didn’t work so well, the mixture was a little moist. But they were DELICIOUS when they were done!

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