Quick trivia for you, this Canadian treat is known by different names, depending where you are in Canada. In Western Canada, it’s called Matrimonial Cake or Matrimonial Squares and in Eastern Canada, it’s called Date Squares or Date Crumble. I always grew up calling them date squares, but since my granny was from Saskatchewan, I was reminded all the time that they’re ‘actually’ called Matrimonial Squares!
My grandmother made date squares all the time, I never really started to appreciate them until I was an adult, but my dad and his siblings always loved them! I didn’t actually make my first batch until about a year ago!
Turns out, my husband loves them madly as well, so now I’m making them all the time too!
For the filling:
2 cups water (or black coffee)
1lb pitted dates, chopped
3/4 cup golden yellow sugar, lightly packed (really you can use golden or brown or light brown, whatever your preference, the dark brown is so good if you use coffee instead of water)
For the crumble:
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup golden yellow sugar, lightly packed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cold butter, chopped
They’re really simple, you make the filling on the stove and the crumble in a bowl. I make the crumble first, but a lot of people like to make the filling first because you’re supposed to let it cool off before you put it on the bottom crumble, but I never do and it always works out just fine.
Preheat the oven to 350F, and spray or line your pan. If you use an 9 x 13 dish, the squares will come out shorter, but you’ll get more. If you use a 8″ square brownie dish, you’ll get big, thick squares. No rules really, just choose your dish based on the height you’re going for.
Mix the oats, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, I like to use my mixer. You can cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender or you can do it like I do, and just use your mixer for that too! If you do, you’ll have to mash a little leftover butter into the crumble with a fork, but it’s still easier than doing the whole thing by hand.
Press half of this crumble mixture into the dish, I pop it in the fridge to firm up a bit, but you don’t have to.
Then I start the filling. Just mix the water (or coffee or even some water-diluted coffee) with the dates and brown sugar in a pot and heat. Cook it for about 10 minutes or so and make sure to use a lid because the filling gets very hot and when it bubbles it could hurt!
Once the filling is done, spread it over the bottom layer and then press the rest of the crumble on top and bake for about 45 minutes.
Let it cool off for a few minutes before you cut into it!