Last night I finished my nursing shift later than expected, and I still had to bake cookies for a Christmas brunch and cookie exchange the next morning. This is my mother’s recipe. She started baking these festive looking bar cookies after I had moved out on my own. I was delighted to discover that not only are they delicious, they are easy and quick to make, which is wonderful when you are short on time. You can really speed things up by using date pieces rather than cutting up whole dates.
Cranberry & Caramel Date Bars
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups uncooked oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup dates, chopped
3/4 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup caramel ice cream topping
Heat oven to 350° F. In bowl combine cranberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. In another bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, and soda. Add butter; mix well. Reserve 1 cup of crumb mixture; press remainder firmly on bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle dates, walnuts, and cranberry mixture over crust. Mix caramel topping and remaining 1/3 cup flour, spoon over fruit and walnuts. Top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown, cool. Cut into bars (makes 24 bars).