Bake Club: Grandma’s Squares

Last week I told you about the recipe my aunty gave me. The date square that my grandma used to make. I made it Saturday and it tastes EXACTLY like I remember it. which is a giant relief. It is so disappointing when things from your childhood aren’t like you remember. I tried the square at room temperature and honestly, I prefer them frozen, so I cut them into small pieces and stuffed them into my full and nearly bursting freezer.

The first thing I did was preheat my oven to 350F and chop a pound of dates.

I pulled out the vintage Pyrex bowls from my parent’s wedding gift stash and I creamed together 1 cup of granulated white sugar and 3 tbsp of salted butter. I did this by hand because I remember my grandma doing it that way. I added 3 egg yolks one at a time, beating in between the addition of each yolk.

I added the pound of chopped dates and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Stirring this was hard. I remember Grandma’s hands shaking and thinking she was weak. Sorry Gran, I take that back. It was hard.

I sifted together 1 cup of unbleached AP flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and 1/4 tsp of salt. I then added it to the mix and stirred it up.

Then I whipped up the egg whites and vanilla until it reached ‘stiff peak’ stage.

I tried to be gentle when folding them in, but honestly, it was hard, so they were forced into the mix. Do what you can, I won’t judge.

It said to pour into a shallow greased pan. It didn’t say what size, but I found a 9 x 13 was the perfect size. I used the back of a measuring cup to smash it down, it wasn’t pourable or spreadable.

I baked it for 25 minutes and it turned out perfectly. The instructions say and I quote “DO NOT OVER BAKE” So I didn’t.

At this point you could cut it up, sprinkling icing sugar over it or leave as is because of the dates, it is very sweet. But not my grandma…. she would make pink buttercream frosting. I think it was intended to be red for Christmas and it would end up being hot pink. I am not okay with food dye but I made an exception this time. Only I made a soft pink frosting by creaming together 1/2 cup of salted butter, 2 cups of icing sugar and 3 tsp of cream.

I am surprised I loved these as a kid with all the dates and nuts. But the hook for me was the frosting. I love the stuff. In hindsight, it kind of tasted like butter tarts, Canada’s favourite sweet. I followed the recipe the way I remember helping Grandma do it. Right down to the beater. I didn’t offer it up to anyone because it was my job to lick it clean.

I did it right Grandma! It tasted they way it was supposed to – better frozen and I did my job. Love you and miss you. Thanks for the squares.