Matrimonial Squares, my favourite dessert

I was going to call this post Date Squares but I thought that Matrimonial Squares was more interesting and also called that by the author, Bonnie Stern….because I had to explain to a friend that a few ‘dates’ leads to matrimony!    But whatever you call them, this dessert is my all-time favourite.  Sweet from the dates…crunchy from the rolled oats, easily put together.

I have been using this classic recipe from Simply HeartSmart Cooking by Bonnie Stern for decades.  And classic recipes should remain unaltered.  Or close to unaltered (I’ll explain a little later).

This recipe had two components.  The filling is the first part.  Three cups of dates, water, sugar and lemon juice.IMG_7622

Chop the dates and add all the above ingredients into a saucepan.IMG_7624

Bring to a boil, stirring  constantly and then reduce to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until very thick.IMG_7625

Time to make the crust.  Rolled oats, white and brown sugars, room temperature butter, baking soda and flour.  The flour is the one alteration to this recipe.  Today I decided to use whole wheat instead of white flour.


Cream the butter, then add the sugars and keep on creaming until light and fluffy.

And my favourite part, added the baking soda, flour and rolled oats and mushing by hand until everything is incorporated and crumbly.


Now to build the date square.  Two-thirds of the crumble mixture is patted into the bottom of a nine inch greased baking dish.IMG_7631All the date filling is spread over the base.

Gently pat the remaining one-third on top and put into a pre-heated 350°F oven to bake for 30 minutes…IMG_7634

…until top is golden brown.  Let cool and cut into squares.IMG_7637

Irresistible.  Delicious.  Give them a try and enjoy!


DATE SQUARES - Bonnie Stern, Simply HeartSmart Cooking

3 cups chopped dates
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup rolled oats


  1. In saucepan, combine dates, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring often, until thickened – 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch baking dish and line or parchment paper.


  1. Cream butter. Add brown and white sugars. Cream well; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and oats and stir well. Blend flour mixture into butter mixture by spoon or by hand. Mixture should be crumbly.


  1. Pat two-thirds of oat-flour into bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread date mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining oat-flour mixture.
  2. Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is browned lightly. Cool and cut into squares.


  1. janie randolph · · Reply

    Thank you, Shelley. Matrimonial Squares it is!

    Sent from my iPad


    1. These are my favourite treat for Valentine’s Day!

  2. Anna Kerwin · · Reply

    Hi S: love the thought of this dessert…..But I have a couple of questions: 1) despite the sweet dates it has a lot of sugar in it. So is it really sweet? 2) have you ever tried using a gluten free flour like almond to make this dessert ? We have a couple of friends who are gluten free-ers

    Hope to see you soon. A

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Hi Anna, 1) Lessen the sugar or you can probably even omit it if you have nice sweet dates. 2) My friend who has a gluten-free husband said that she would make this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats and Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour blend. I hope this helps. Hope all is well with you and we can get together soon. Shelley

  3. Frances harris · · Reply

    Never knew this was your favourite

    1. It seemed to evolve into my favourite over the years. Growing up, my favourite was your delicious Royal Cheesecake!

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