Newfoundland Date Squares or Date Crumbles is a recipe every local family knows and loves. The secret is having the right proportion of butter in the crumble and this recipe gets it just right.
Not just Nanny Hynes’ favorite square, another universal Newfoundland treat common to almost every family cookbook is Newfoundland Date Crumbles. There are many recipes out there for these popular squares but this is the best recipe I have ever used.
The secret to a good crumble is the proper amount of butter in the recipe. Too many recipes use too little, resulting in a dry end product where the crumble doesn’t hold together properly. I’ve seen them so dry you could blow the crumble like dust off the top of the square. Not my idea of a great crumble.
The other vital component in Newfoundland Date Crumbles is the filling. Opinions and tastes vary. My wife is partial to lots of filling. I am middle of the road when it comes to this topic but we both agree that the thin, near non-existent layer of filling that some commercial bakeries try to pass off as a proper date crumble these days is really unacceptable. Try this recipe and you’ll easily see the difference.
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- 18 ounces dates, chopped
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1½ tablespoons vanilla
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups rolled oats (large)(not quick oats)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut (fine or medium cut)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups butter, cut in small cubes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper if you want.
- As noted in the recipe description, some people prefer these date squares with less filling so you can reduce the amounts in the filling by ¼, 1/3 or even ½ if you prefer.
- In a medium saucepan combine and gently simmer until thickened (about 10-15 minutes).
- The filling should be very thick; you will need to watch it carefully and stir constantly in the last few minutes of cooking time.
- Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the crumble mixture.
- In a large bowl, toss together the rolled oats, baking powder, coconut, flour and brown sugar.
- Using your hands, rub the butter thoroughly through the dry ingredients.
- Divide crumble mixture in half and press half into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
- Spread date mixture over the base.
- Top with remaining crumb mixture, pressing it together in clumps in your hands and then breaking it into small pieces with your fingers to scatter evenly over the date filling.
- Press down lightly.
- Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- This is a very good basic recipe but I have also had very good variations of date crumbles over the years.
- Orange Date Crumbles: Substitute orange juice for the water in the filling and add the zest of a medium orange.
- Cocoa Date Crumbles: Add 4 tbsp cocoa to the filling.
- Hazelnut or Almond Date Crumbles: Prepare filling as usual. Add ½ cup ground Almonds or Hazelnuts plus 1 tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp nutmeg to the crumble.