Dates squares - sweet, chewy and set between a perfect buttery crust that is flaking, crumbly and has a little crunch. So good with tea and coffee which is likely why they can almost always be found at any Canadian coffee shop or bakery.
In a large saucepan combine dates, sugar, water and vanilla. Mix well and simmer until dates soften and thicken. Use the back of a large spoon to break down the dates when they soften to create a thickened smooth mixture. Do this before all the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until smooth and light.
In a medium bowl add oats, flour, cinnamon and salt and mix well to combine.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix only until combined. You want the crust a little flakey and crumbly so don't over mix.
Grease an 8 X 8 baking dish and line with parchment paper. Add half of the oatmeal mixture and press lightly and evenly into bottom of pan.
Add cooled date mixture and spread evenly over bottom layer.
With the remaining oatmeal mixture evenly drop spoonfuls on top of the date mixture. It will look like dumplings on top but don't worry. Then place a piece of wax paper on top and use the back of a large spoon or bottom of a small glass to help spread the oat mixture out evenly across the top. Don't press hard of the oat topping will sink in. Simply coax the oat mixture to spread out to form a thin crust as evenly as possible. When done remove the wax paper.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the oat mixture starts to turn a light golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cooled completely you can easily lift the whole item out of the baking dish and cut into squares but to do this the dates squares must be completely cool. Store in a sealed container or freeze for up to 2 months.