Whole-Wheat Date Bars (Ma'roota) 35.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Jun 7, 2017

Because these are made with no added sugar, nutritionist Nour Zibdeh liked serving these to her family as breakfast "cookies" as well as energy bars.

In testing, we found it easier to roll out the top and bottom doughs as well as the date filling, separately, between sheets of parchment paper. She has updated the recipe since 2010 (her original posting).

Make Ahead: The bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Where to Buy: Packages of pressed dates are available in Middle Eastern markets.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 35 servings; makes 2-inch bars

  • For the filling
  • 20 ounces pressed baking dates (may substitute 18 ounces soft pitted dates, such as deglet noor; see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the dough
  • 3 cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup semolina
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons ground anise seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole anise seed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1 cup 1 percent or 2 percent milk, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet or jellyroll pan (10 by 15 inches) with parchment paper.

For the filling: Combine the pressed dates, cinnamon and oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 to 60 seconds, until softened, then knead or stir with a wooden spoon until well blended. (If you are using pitted dates, chop them finely before this microwaving step.)

For the dough: Whisk together the flour, semolina, baking soda, baking powder, ground fennel seed, ground anise seed and whole anise seed in a mixing bowl.

Add the egg and vanilla extract, using your clean fingers to work them in, then add the oil and rose water (to taste). Knead in the bowl to form a well-incorporated dough. Divide the dough in half.

Place each dough half between sheets of parchment paper. Roll out to a 10-by-15-inch rectangle; the dough will be thin. Slide one rolled-out rectangle of dough onto the baking sheet or jellyroll pan, then peel off the top parchment.

Place the filling between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; roll out to a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Remove the top parchment, then carefully invert the thin rectangle of filling directly on top of the dough in the pan.

Remove the top parchment from the remaining rolled-out dough half, then carefully invert directly on top of the filling. Press it down lightly to adhere to the filling. Trim any ragged edges, as needed. Use a sharp knife to score thirty-five 2-inch squares. Bake (middle rack) for 35 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned on top.

Slide the slab of date bars onto a cutting board, using its bottom parchment. Cut into squares, using the guidelines you made before baking. Serve warm, or cool completely before storing.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from nutritionist Nour Zibdeh.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick and Kara Elder.

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