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Date Squares

Unbaked, refrigerated squares or balls that are made from dates and crushed biscuits are a South African favourite. They can be flavoured with vanilla or brandy and can be cut into squares or rolled into balls. They are usually covered in desiccated coconut to make them less sticky, and some recipes add more butter to make them softer, but the basic recipe remains the same.

We include two versions of plain date squares here. The first version was a promotional recipe from Bakers, makers of Marie biscuits in South Africa. The second version use New Zealand's Vanilla Wine biscuits (sold in larger 250 gram packets). It has a somewhat firmer texture.

Ingredients for South African version:

  • 1 packet Marie biscuits (200 gram)
  • 100 ml sugar
  • 250 gram chopped dates
  • 115 gram butter
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 teaspooon vanilla essence or brandy
  • Desiccated coconut to coat the squares

Ingredients for Marietjie's New Zealand version:

(Enough for 32 squares)

  • 1 packet of 250 gram Wine Biscuits
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 100 gram butter
  • 250 gram chopped dates
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or brandy

Optional:

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons glazed cherries-in-brandy, quartered
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Desiccated coconut to coat the squares

Method

  1. Crush the biscuits into fingernail-size pieces.
  2. Melt the butter and the sugar. Add the dates and simmer until the mixture is soft and mushy.
  3. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool down a somewhat.
  4. If you want to add cherries, do it now.
  5. Add whisked egg and vanilla and mix.
  6. Add crushed biscuits and mix.
  7. Spread mixture into a lined container (we used a 150mm x 260mm brownie pan lined with foil).
  8. Refrigerate for a few hours and cut into small squares.

Served as is, or cover in coconut to prevent the squares from sticking to each other.

Can be frozen.

Note: We keep glazed cherries, half-covered with brandy, in a glass screw-top jar in the fridge. Using these cherries enhance the date square's flavour in a spectacular fashion.