Recipe: Date-nut bars are soft and chewy with an especially good flavor from browned butter

Sheryl Julian for the Boston Globe

By Lisa Yockelson Globe Correspondent 

Makes 40

Among the earliest bar cookies are these soft and chewy date-nut bars with dried fruits and walnuts. Here, the traditional bars get a twist with browned butter in the batter, which gives them an especially good flavor.

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (1 stick cut into chunks, 1 stick at room temperature)
2cups flour
¼teaspoon baking soda
¼teaspoon baking powder
½teaspoon salt
½teaspoon ground nutmeg
1cup dark brown sugar
½cup granulated sugar
2teaspoons vanilla extract
cups pitted dates, diced
cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.


2. In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the chunks of butter, swirling the pan over the heat until the butter is a nutty brown color. Lift the pan from time to time to check on the color of the butter by tipping it gently to one side. Pour the butter into a heatproof bowl; cool to lukewarm but still liquid.

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3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg to blend them.

4. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the browned butter and room temperature butter for 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugar and vanilla and beat for 1 minute.

5. Reduce the speed to medium-low. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until combined. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 30 seconds. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat only until blended.

6. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a large metal spoon, fold in the dates and walnuts. Transfer the batter to the baking pan; spread it evenly and smooth the top. Tap the pan once hard on the counter to settle any air pockets.


7. Bake for 40 minutes, or until just set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Make 3 vertical cuts and 4 horizontal cuts in the rectangle to form 20 pieces. Cut each in half to make 40. Use an offset spatula to remove the bars from the pan. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Just before serving, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Lisa Yockelson

Lisa Yockelson can be reached at