Filling – weigh out 8 oz. of chopped and pitted dates (about 1 1/2 cups), 3/4 cup of water AND 1 t. finely grated orange zest
2 T. packed brown sugar AND 1/4 c. raw sugar (or turbinado)
1/2 c. melted butter (or olive oil or melted coconut oil)
3/4 c. oatmeal
3/4 c. + 2 T. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. cinnamon AND a pinch EACH of nutmeg AND ground cloves
1/4 t. EACH baking soda AND sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400, grease an 8×8 cake pan, line it with parchment and grease that as well. In a small pot, combine the 3 filling ingredients and bring the mix to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow it all to simmer, while stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the mix has thickened. Take the pot off of the heat and allow it to cool while you mix the crumbs.
In a large bowl, work together both sugars and the melted butter. Add in the oatmeal, flour and remaining ingredients (be careful with the spices, they’re pretty powerful in such a small pan!) and stir until you have a coarse, but well-combined mix.
Press half of the crumb mix into your prepared pan, dollop the date mix over the pressed crumb and do your best to spread it smoothly and evenly over all, then sprinkle on the remaining crumbs and press down lightly to help them to stay in place.
Bake the bars for about 20 minutes until lightly browned at the edges and then allow them to cool completely in the pan before cutting them into squares and eating, storing or freezing.