Date Nut Bars–Shortbread Cookies

This is one of those recipes that has been around for many years.  I think my mother made these for lunchbox treats in the 70’s.  When I was planning for this week, I just couldn’t face another sweet cookie to make for the kids lunches.  I dug this recipe out from my old family favorites and decided it would hit the spot.  This version doesn’t have added sugar in it.  I’ve made them before and the kids usually eat them with a piece of fruit.

Sometimes I add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of brown sugar to the recipe, but decided not to this time.  Also, sometimes I cut the bars into squares, but not this time.  I was striving for a quick, tasty (and not too sweet) cookie bar.  I got raves!  I hope you will give this recipe a try.  Remember to make it your own! You can substitute any dried fruit and change out the nuts according to your families likes.  Enjoy the creative process!

Date Nut Bars--Shortbread Cookies
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Hot water to cover the dates
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces and cold
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1¾ cups Baking Free™ gluten-free All Purpose Flour (217 g)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  1. Place dates, baking soda in a small bowl. Cover with hot water (hottest from the tap will work). Stir to dissolve the baking soda and set aside to soak for 10 minutes or so.
  2. Drain dates and mash with a fork--they should be quite soft by then.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Using a stand mixer, beat butter and dates until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium. Add vanilla, egg yolk and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  5. I a separate bowl, stir together the flour and chopped pecans. Add to the butter mixture in a couple of additions, beating on low until combined.
  6. Scrape dough onto a parchment paper and lightly flour hands. Press into a rectangle about 8 X 12 in size and cookies are about ¼ inch thick.
  7. With a sharp knife, score dough by cutting dough in half lengthwise. Do not pull the dough apart. Then score the long pieces into 6 bars each. Poke each cookie a couple of times with a fork down the middle. You now have 12 rectangular bars. If you want, you can score each into a square and have 24. I left mine bars.
  8. Place parchment on a baking sheet and bake 30-35 minutes, until shortbread is slightly browned and baked through. Remove from oven and cool. Cut along the score lines to separate the bars and serve. Makes 12 bars.