Square Season

I’ve got the baking bug. Perhaps the result of months of watching the Great British Baking Show, the Great Canadian Baking Show and the Great American Baking Show. Watching nice people bake nice things and saying nice supportive things to each other has warmed my heart and given me the encouragement to dig out my 8 x 8 square pan and put delicious things in it. Then eat it.

First up was a sweetened condensed milk phase. I made Millionaire Squares (shortbread bottom, caramel centre and chocolate top). Photo not available, but a Google search will satisfy your curiosity very quickly.

Next up was a tooth throbbing sweet chocolate fudge sort of concoction made very simply, no oven required. These sweet treats are made by melting two cups chocolate chips along with 2/3 of one can of sweetened condensed milk. You do not need to wait for a certain temperature or ball stage. Just melt together. Once melted, spread in an 8 x 8 pan lined with wax paper. Then, melt one cup butterscotch chips in the remaining sweetened condensed milk. Spread over chocolate base. Add a light sprinkle of fleur de sel. Refrigerate for three hours. Lift out of pan and cut in tiny pieces. Should look like this:

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Today I was feeling nostalgic and remembered date squares (aka matrimonial bars). Date squares seem old world to me, and like to think I’m evoking the spirit of my mother and grandmothers when I make these. I love dates in all forms. One particular treat is to take a Medjool date, split it in half, remove the pit, and add a bit of plain cream cheese. Heaven.

For today’s date squares I pulled out my trusty 8 x 8, and cooked up 1 cup of dates (the block kind) along with 1/2 cup of water, a few tablespoons of brown sugar, the grated rind of one orange, the juice of a half an orange, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Can’t you just smell it?

Once the dates have become a oozy mess, I set it aside and worked on the infamous, messy, crumb base. To make this, with my hands mixed together 1 1/2 cups oatmeal, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, a teaspoon of baking powder, a half teaspoon of baking soda, and a dash of salt. I used fresh from the fridge hard butter and worked it in the flour and oatmeal until a fine crumb.

Into my buttered 8 x 8 I added about 2/3 of the crumb base and lightly packed it. Then I smeared on the date ooze, and covered with the remaining crumb. I baked it in a 350F oven for 35 minutes.

Kid yourself not, even though this contains dates and oats which sound healthy and wholesome, it also has the addition of brown sugar and butter, which does not place it in the Canada Food Guide Fruit and Vegetable section of the rainbow. There’s enough butter in it, a person might be able to count it as a dairy serving.

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