Friday, December 23, 2011

C is for...Cape Breton Date Squares and Sweet Marie Bars

I’m supposed to be going to the gym right now. But, I find myself thinking about making more cookies instead. After all, tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve has always been my favourite part of Christmas. My mom would make tea and put out a lovely three-tier cookie stand full of various cookies and squares. Friends would drop by for a short visit before heading home to prepare for Christmas Day.

The cookie stand is mine now, and I intend to fill it up for our guests tomorrow night. My kids and my nieces expect it, just as I did when I was a child. I have made four recipes so far, and I have (at least) a couple more planned.

My favourite square of all is the date square.

Problem is, most bakeries make terrible date squares, completely different from the delicious ones my Nova Scotia granny used to make. My mom has continued to make them for me over the years, but I figured eventually I better start making them myself. I am sharing the recipe with you here. It’s not my granny’s recipe, but it’s close. Try it, and you’ll never buy date squares again.

I also made Sweet Marie bars. They are wheat-free and can be made dairy-free for those who need or want to. I just used margarine instead of butter, as well as Enjoy Life brand allergen-free chocolate chips. They are simple to make too. They can be whipped together in a few minutes, and don’t need any baking.

If you get a chance, tell me about your essential Christmas cookie.

I hope you get all you wish for this Christmas, including happiness and good health.

Cape Breton Date Squares

by Joann MacDonald
Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert vegetarian nut-free dates oats squares

  • 1 cup hard margarine
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • 2/3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 tsp salt
For the filling
  • 3 cups chopped dates

Apologies for the strange amounts of baking soda and salt. I cut a larger recipe down to a third. This can also be used as an oatmeal cookie mix.
Mix dry ingredients together; cut in margarine to make coarse crumbs. Using your hands makes it quicker.
To make the date filling, combine dates and 1 ½ cups water in a heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until thickened, about 15 minutes.
To make the squares, press 2 ½ cups of the dry mix into the bottom of a greased 8” or 9” square pan. Spread the date filling over the base. Sprinkle the remaining dry mix on top and press lightly. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes until golden on top.

Sweet Marie Bars

by Joann MacDonald
Cook Time: none
Keywords: no bake dessert gluten-free vegan vegetarian squares

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp margarine
  • ½ cup peanuts
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • Icing:
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp margarine
Melt peanut butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and margarine in a medium pot, stirring until blended. Remove from heat. Add peanuts and cereal. Spread into a 9x9-inch pan. Melt the chocolate chips and margarine together and spread over the base. Allow icing to set. Enjoy!


  1. I've never heard of a Sweet Marie bar before, but they look like fudgy, peanut butter-y heaven! Have a very sweet holiday! :)

  2. I will indeed Hannah. I have been eating light for two days to make up for tonight :)

  3. While both white and brown versions of basmati rice provide vital nutrients, top long grain rice contains more fiber, phosphorus, zinc, and B vitamins. Brown basmati rice is also lower on the glycemic index.

  4. Seriously? What does that have to do with this recipe?
    It a gluten-free TREAT, not a daily diet choice!