Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Date Walnut Bars #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: There is nothing quite so yummy and indulgent as a big fat bar cookie from a bakery. So my tummy and I were particularly happy to stumble on this recipe from a cookbook that’s sat on my shelves for ages and doesn’t get hauled out often enough.

The combination of dates, raisins, and orange peel gives these classics a terrific flavor twist. The filling can be made ahead of time, up to a week, if you’re the plan-ahead type. (Or the interrupted-baker type.)

By the way, my in-house Cookie Monster, aka Mr. Right, ranks these with chocolate chip and gingersnaps as his top three cookies.

Date Walnut Bars

Adapted from Bar Cookies A to Z by Marie Simmons


2 cups (1-8 ounce package) dates, chopped or diced
½ cup dark raisins
1 cup water
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust & Topping:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9X13 inch baking pan. 

Combine dates, raisins, water, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to boiling; cook over low heat, uncovered, until the dates are tender and the water absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender. Alternatively, use a large food processor. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and blend, using a fork.

Press 2-1/2 cups of flour mixture into prepared pen in an even layer. Spoon filling over crust and spread evenly with a small, flexible spatula. Sprinkle remaining mixture over the top and press down lightly with your fingers or the spatula.

Bake 35-37 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cool pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars.


From the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, Spice Shop Mystery #5, out now in e-book and audio, in paperback October 20, 2020 (Seventh St. Books and Tantor Audio) : 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface ... 

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow. 

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake, in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. oh but this looks yummy. thanks for sharing this recipe.

  2. I haven't eaten a date walnut bar in more years than I care to count. Loved them in my childhood but thought to look up a recipe and make them. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. How delightful -- happy to help you recreate that memory!

  3. Date nut bars? YES!
    Brilliant choice.
    You say "1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)" but the photo shows a Quick Quaker Oats package.

    1. It does. That's a replica of a vintage tin. I collect them.

    2. And by coincidence, that one does actually hold oats! The other oat tin holds granola. The flour is in a Washburn & Crosby Mills tin, which I love because my father used to travel to towns in ND on business -- Washburn and Crosby. The Saltines tin holds brown rice, since I lost my taste for saltines after trying to toast them and scorching the underside of the kitchen cabinets in my parents' house. In my defense, I was only 4 or 5. :)

    3. Wonderful stories! Thanks

    4. Glad you like them! I love those old tins. Well, new, but I've had most of them 35 years or more. I do also have a few actual old tins, not replicas.

  4. Yes, this is a pleasure to read & make like your fabulous books.
    Thanks so much for both. :-)

    Kathy levernier