My Coffee-Chocolate G-F Date Square
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

I had plenty of gluten-free oats leftover after making my veggie meatloaf and plenty of dates after I made turkey stew (ah, yes . . too many men, too little time).

But seriously, my IT guy loves date squares - who knew? He must have had a lovely grandmother who made them for church bake sales. That's the only place I've seen them. 

In all fairness, I was never keen on them, especially if they weren't wrapped and they dried out. Blah.

Oh, but I was determined to make date squares that will knock his (and your) socks off. I think I did it. And yes, it involves coffee and chocolate. 

No, these aren't your Grandmother's date squares and they are just the kick you need midday to keep going.

My Ingredients

My Date Square Ingredients
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

The Inspiration and Tweaks

I adapted my recipe from one by Marilyn Bentz-Crowley on LCBO's Food & Drink website titled Coffee Toffee Date Squares.[1] I made mine gluten-free, however if you are using regular flour and oats, just omit the xanthan gum.

Since I needed to make mine nut-free as well, I added 1/2 cup more oats and flour. If you are fine with almonds, add them. Slivered almonds in the crust and topping are fabulous in date squares.

The original recipe called for 8 oz (250 g) pitted dates; when coarsely chopped, these were supposed to equal 2 cups. I suppose it depends on the size of your dates, but I found that I needed more like 1.5 cups of pitted dates to reach 2 cups of coarsely chopped ones.
I'm sure this was a typo in the original recipe: 1/2 cup (250 mL) strong coffee or espresso (but 1/2 cup = 118 mL). I found that using 1 cup (240 mL) of espresso was ideal.
I didn't bother dusting my date squares with icing sugar (although Redpath icing sugar is gluten-free).

Rose's Coffee-Choco Date Squares

Prep: 15 mins | Total: 1 hour

This makes about 15 date squares. If you wish, feel free to try a combination of toffee and chocolate chips in the crumb mixture and on top. (I haven't tried it - yet).
1.5 cups (265 g) pitted dates
1 cup (240 mL) strong coffee or espresso
1 tsp. (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
Crumb mixture for crust and topping: 
1.5 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour 
1/3 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt, if using unsalted butter (*use a pinch if using salted butter)
1 pkg (8 oz / 226 g) gluten-free toffee chips (about 1.3 cups worth) Hershey's Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits are gluten-free OR gluten-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips) OR a combination of the two which = 1.3 cups worth
1.5 cups gluten-free rolled oats (either old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts (If you need nut-free date squares, increase your flour and oat quantities by 1/2 cup each)
3/4 cup butter*
Make yourself some strong coffee or espresso and save out 1 cup for this recipe. Slice or coarsely chop dates until you have about 2 cups worth and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, over med-high heat, add coffee and chopped dates and keep stirring until dates lose their shape and sauce thickens (about 5 mins). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool while making crumb mixture.
Ensure oven racks are set so date squares will bake in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 F (175 C). Pull our your large 3-Quart casserole dish (13 x 9-inch) and either lightly grease it or line it with parchment paper. Save out 1/3 cup of chocolate or toffee chips (to sprinkle on top as soon as squares are pulled from oven).
In a large bowl, whisk together all the remaining dry ingredients and slowly add in melted butter (while mixing). You want moist crumbs to form (about the size of peas). Pour out half of crumb mixture into prepared casserole dish and pat down.
TIP: If time, refrigerate the crust for 20 - 30 minutes, it will make spreading the date filling a bit easier.
Pour cooled date filling over bottom crust layer and spread as evenly as possible. Top with remaining crumb mixture and smooth top layer.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until top is lightly brown. If after 20 mins, top appears to be browning too fast, cover with a tented piece of foil and reduce heat to 325 F (163 C).
Once removed from oven, immediately sprinkle the saved out chocolate or toffee chips on top and allow date squares to cool in the pan (at least 20 minutes) before serving. Date squares will keep at room temperature for a couple of days, after that either store them in the fridge (in an airtight container) or freeze them.

The Date Filling Spreads Easier

If you refrigerate the bottom layer for 30 mins

Date Filling (about to be put on crust layer)
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

Careful, Date Filling is Sticky

Using a large spatula or cold butter knife helps

Spreading Date Filling
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Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips

Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips RoseWrites 2014-10-05 5.0 0 5

Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips

Made in a dedicated nut and gluten-free facility:

Enjoy Life Semi Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips - 10 oz - 2 pk
Amazon Price: $8.59 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 16, 2015)
If you have family members with multiple food allergies, these chocolate chips are a godsend. Ingredients: evaporated cane juice, natural chocolate liquor (non-alcoholic), and non-dairy cocoa butter. These are certified gluten-free, tree nut-free, peanut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and sulfite-free.

Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits

Hershey's, Heath, Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits RoseWrites 2014-10-05 4.5 0 5

Hershey's Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits

The only gluten-free toffee chips I could find:

Heath Milk Chocolate & Toffee Bits, 8-Ounce bags (Pack of 6)
Amazon Price: $21.16 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 16, 2015)
This is as good as it gets for those who love toffee but need gluten-free baking chips. Ingredients: milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, salt, lactose, soy lecithin, vanillin, artificial flavor), sugar dairy butter, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, almonds, salt, artificial flavor, soy flavor, and soy lecithin. NOTE: Contains almonds, soy, dairy

Sweet Enough Without the Chocolate

Slivered almonds or walnuts in the crust are heavenly

My Gluten-Free Coffee Chocolate Date Square
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved