Chocolate Date Bars

Serves: 24

   1 1/4 cups hot water
   8 ounces chopped pitted dates
   1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda, divided
   3/4 cup agave
   1/4 cup soft butter or margarine
   2 eggs
   1 1/4 cups flour
   1/2 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1/2 cup rolled oats
   12 ounces mini chocolate chips
   1 cup chopped nuts

Chocolate Date Bars is from the Cook'n with Agave collection.

Simmer water, dates and one teaspoon soda together in saucepan for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. In large mixing bowl, cream agave with butter until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, salt and 1/4 teaspoon soda. Blend into creamed mixture. Stir in dates and liquid, vanilla, rolled oats and one half chocolate pieces. Spread batter into greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces and nuts over top. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes. Cool before cutting into bars.

DESSERT VARIATION: Serve warm, cut into squares. Top with soft vanilla ice cream or agave sweetened whipped cream.