Iced Date Cake Squares

Yield: one 8-inch square pan, about 16-25 pieces
Recipe: 143/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 64

    I recently stocked my pantry with dates, which does not happen often, so I figured that it was the perfect time to make these iced date squares, a recipe that I’ve been eyeing and actually wanting to make for a while now. This recipe was fun and simple to make, and smelled really lovely while baking in the oven. I had a hard time choosing between describing this dessert as a cake or bars since they are eaten like bars but have more the texture of a cake, so I think they could be considered as “cakey” bars, if that makes sense. They were a very nice texture and enjoyable to eat.

Ingredients for base:

  • ¾ cup chopped pitted dates (about 15 dates)
  • ¾ cup apple cider or apple juice
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Ingredients for icing:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

    These cakey bars tasted quite nice, but unfortunately I did not get much of the flavour from the dates, even though at least 15 went in there. It was mostly the delightful combination of spices that came through, not the dates themselves. I wonder if the ones that I had were perhaps not as sweet as others, and that’s why they did not taste as much. In any case, the bars are pleasant to eat and are a good treat, even if I would be hard-pressed to think of them as date squares.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides.
  2. In a small saucepot, bring the dates and apple cider or juice to just below a simmer. Shut off the heat and let the date mixture cool to room temperature.
  3. Using a blender or hand mixer, purée the dates with the cider or juice and transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the sugar, oil, egg and ginger into the date mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and all spice. Whisk together and add to the date mixture. Stir well to combine.
  6. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before icing.
  7. For the icing, beat together the butter and ½ cup of the icing sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk and vanilla extract. Add the remaining ½ cup of sugar and beat until smooth.
  8. Spread the icing over the surface of the cooled cake and let it set for at least an hour before slicing into squares.