Makes one 8-by-8-inch pan (about 16 bars)
Plump dates are the star of these crumbly, flaky, buttery dessert bars. The fresh orange zest and pistachio blend seamlessly with the dates and flaky pie crust to create a confection that tastes both Middle Eastern and pure Americana. This is a great use for our delicious bulk “Grinders.” As the date’s natural sugars caramelize in the oven you end up with a rich filling that tastes similar to a pecan pie. When prepping your dates, don’t forget to remove the pits! You also want to really pack the dates into the pan so that your filling holds together when you cut into the bars.
- 1 cup almond meal
- ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 30 to 35 Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest, plus 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 roll refrigerated store-bought pie crust
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- Very finely chopped pistachios, for garnish
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch metal baking pan with butter and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides. In a medium bowl, mix the almond meal with the flour, brown sugar and salt. Drizzle the melted butter over the top and use your hands to work the butter into the dry ingredients. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to make sure the crust is as compact as possible. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges of the crust turn golden brown. Let cool completely and turn off the oven.
Meanwhile, using a paring knife, make a small slit in each date. Remove the pits, being careful not to cut the dates in half. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the orange zest, juice and vanilla extract and toss to coat. Let sit while you prepare the crust.
On a lightly floured surface, unroll the store-bought pie crust. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough slightly (about a 12-inch circle). Trim the circle to make a 9-inch square and transfer to a parchment paper-lined plate. Refrigerate until ready to use. Save the dough scraps for another use.
Pour off any liquid from the dates. Gently flatten each date with your palm and press into the par-baked crust, slightly overlapping the dates to create a compact layer. Using your hands, press down firmly on the dates. Arrange the pie crust on top of the dates and trim to fit. Top with a square piece of parchment paper and then set a small plate or similarly sized baking pan directly on top of the bars. Weigh the plate down with a heavy can. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Remove the bars from the fridge and discard the top layer of parchment paper. Brush the dough with the beaten egg. Bake the bars for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
In a small bowl, mix the honey with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush the honey on the top crust and sprinkle generously with pistachios and a little flaky sea salt. Let the bars cool completely.
Run a knife around the edges, then use the parchment paper overhang to gently lift the bars from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 2-inch bars; serve.
MAKE AHEAD The bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.