Not with this banana and date square recipe! It has plenty of bananas and an equal amount of dates. I think of this dessert as the happy compromise between blah-blah bland bananas and tweety-tweety sweet dates. If you have ripe bananas sitting on your kitchen counter and you can’t figure out what to do with them (you’ve already made banana breads the umpteenth time so banana bread is out of the question), how about banana and date squares? You may have to run out to buy dates, but it’s well worth the trip.
You won’t be using oats as topping – that would only remind you of those common-place date squares that don’t jiggle your appetite. Instead you’ll be making a flour dough that will sandwich the banana and date filling. When the dish comes out of the oven, you brush the top with butter and then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. The dessert that can be an air freshener at the same time!
The picture on the left may seem lacking in artistic presentation but it delivers BIG on taste. I’m not saying that because I myself am disappointed with the look of the wrinkled dough. Blame it on the clumsy way I spread it. I had used more dough for the bottom layer and by the time I was ready to “crown” the banana and date filling, I didn’t have enough left to finish the top layer.
Like I said, these squares were big on taste. I first had them at a cooking school in the west island. I had signed up for a Chinese dumpling course but it was cancelled. In place of a refund, I chose to have cash credits so I could come and pick up prepared meals and desserts. I liked the banana and date squares and asked the owner if I could have the recipe, berating myself afterwards for even asking. I’ve grown accustomed to food entrepreneurs who jealously guard their recipes.
Surprise: she e-mailed it to me the next morning!
I’ve made this recipe twice, and each time I scold myself for falling short. The first time I thought the dough wasn’t enough so I increased the flour to three cups. The second time – just when I thought I had enough dough – I took far too much to make the bottom layer, not leaving a sufficient quantity for the top layer. I’ll probably get it right the third time and I will avoid that fragmented crater look, aiming for a more appealing layer that’s even and smoother.
You’ll find identical recipes on the Net but this one from the cooking school is excellent. You may want to increase the quantity of the flour. Also, I used low-fat margarine (is there such a thing?) instead of butter.
250 g butter (1 cup butter)
200 ml sugar (1 cup)
500 ml flour (2 cups – you’re safer using 3 cups)
10 ml baking powder (about 3 tsp)
4 bananas (I used 3 large ones and partly mashed them)
250 g dates (about a cup – chopped)
15 ml melted butter (2 tbsp)
5 ml cinnamon (3/4 tsp)
30 ml sugar (2 tbsp)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Beat eggs one at a time.
4. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix well.
5. Place half the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
6. Cover the dough with banana slices and chopped dates.
7. Place remaining dough over as a topping.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
9. Remove from oven, and then brush melted butter over the top while still hot.
10. Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the top.
11. Cut into squares and cool on wire rack.
Tip: I made the squares the night before. When the dish came out of the oven, I let it cool for 2 hours and sliced them into squares but did not take them out. I refrigerated the entire dish. The next day, I took it out two hours before serving and then microwaved each square for 22 seconds. These squares are excellent when served warm; this was the square I had, as it came tumbling out of the baking dish. Yum!