Honolulu date bars

December 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

For Thanksgiving my parents drove up here to visit me and some of our other relatives who live nearby, and we of course spent a lot of time talking about food. As one of my sister’s friends put it, at my family’s holiday meals, we talk about what we’ve eaten before, what we’re currently eating, and of course what we’re going to eat in the future!

Anyways, so one of the food items that came up was these date bars (check off “food we’ve eaten in the past”), which led to me asking for the recipe for Honolulu date bars (check off “food to be eaten in the future”), which of course is back at home in my mom’s recipe box. Basically, they’re sweet and sticky dates sandwiched between an oaty crumble base and then a light crumble topping of more oats, and thoroughly delicious and nutritious.

My best friend and I loved these for snack during college. I think my mom started making them again because they’re vegan, so they’re something both of us could share. The only change I made to my mom’s version, besides adding in two kinds of oats, was to add in extra dates, because really, why not honor the namesake ingredient?

Speaking of namesakes, while I have no idea if Honolulu date bars are actually eaten in Hawaii, having never been, I would still love these bars even if I were to  learn they were probably invented to sell dried dates. They certainly conjure up an image a bit more appealing than the bleak weather I’ve been experiencing. I bet in Hawaii their trees aren’t crystallized in ice…

Honolulu date bars

Just like my mom’s, but with more dates!

Makes 16 bars


  • Two cups water
  • Two cups chopped dates
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A small pinch of salt
  • One and a half cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup rolled quick oats
  • One cup packed light brown sugar
  • One and a half teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup neutral-tasting vegetable oil (my mom uses canola, I used some random olive oil I have)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a wide skillet, combine water and chopped dates and bring to a gentle simmer over high heat. Continue cooking for about ten minutes total. You may need to turn down the heat gradually and stir occasionally to keep the mixture from boiling and/or burning. The dates and water will thicken and meld together.

3. Meanwhile, combine oats, oil, sugar, flour, the 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Firmly press two-thirds of the crumble mixture into an 8 by 8 inch pan.

4. Once the ten minutes are done, remove the pan of dates from the heat. Let cool for a few minutes, and then stir in the vanilla extract and a small pinch of salt.

5. With a spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the date mixture over the oat-crumble base. Then sprinkle over the remaining oat crumble mixture, but don’t press on it. Bake for about forty to forty-five minutes, or until the edges are crispy-looking and the crumble topping is fragrant and golden. I recommend letting these cool completely before cutting as otherwise they tend to fall apart, but they’re delicious right away so I can’t say I followed my own advice.

Note: Honolulu date bars can be kept in an airtight container for up to one week.


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