3 cups (720 ml) (400 grams) pitted dried dates
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups (480 ml) (200 grams) old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup crushed walnuts or pecan nuts
1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (160 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, softened
Place the pitted dates and water in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the dates are soft and have absorbed most of the water (about 5 – 10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter (or use a non stick cooking spray) a 9 inch (23 cm) square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper.
In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, walnuts and baking powder. Add the butter and stir to combine.
Press about 2/3 of the mixture onto the base of the prepared pan.
Spread the date filling evenly over the oatmeal crisp. Sprinkle the remaining dough evenly over the top of the dates, press down gently to compact. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool. Once the squares have cooled, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator at least one hour or until firm enough to cut easily into squares.