This is the best date square receipt in the world because it has a thick date layer; not just a tiny bit of date flavouring in the middle. It originated with Vi Rowan whose backyard backed on to ours on Ashall Boulevard in East York. Vi was brought up by her aunt; so this is perhaps Vi's aunt's receipt. Vi gave the receipt to my mother circa 1952.
Vi and Frank Rowan were really good neighbours, but we lost touch with them in the 1960's.
Mix 3 cups pitted dates, 1/2 cup sugar and cook for 15 minutes in just enough water to cover. The water will be absorbed and the dates will cook up into a smooth date spread.
While the dates are cooking, mix the oats, flour, salt, brown sugar and melted shortening. Mix well, then mix in 2 Tbsp milk.
Use an 8 inch square pan. Make a layer using about half of a little more of the oatmeal mixture and pack down a bit. Then make a date layer and top with the remaining oatmeal mixture.
Bake for half an hour at 350°F.
(1) There is a wide variety of oatmeal available ranging from "olde fashioned large flake" to "instant - just add hot water" style. We find that Quaker® Quick Oats (cooks in 3 to 5 minutes) works best. Probably other brands of quick cooking oatmeal would work as well.
(2) Be sure to use solid shortening and melt it. Do NOT attempt to use cooking oil or "liquid shortening" as it will result in a greasy, oily product.
(3) Date squares are good served with ice cream.
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