Here's my spiffed up recipe for the cookie bars. The original recipe came from a friend of my mom's she met in Heidelberg, Germany, at the Army headquarters where we lived when I was a baby. She called it Date Chocolate Cake. I have changed the recipe to make it more cookie bar-ish, and more chocolately.
Here's what I do for my date-chocolate cookie bars: Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"x13" metal casserole pan with cooking spray - like Pam. Set aside. Combine: 1 cup of dates, chopped into small pieces 1.25 cups hot water 1 teaspoon baking soda Chop the dried dates (if necessary) and pour the hot water and soda over, mixing together. Let sit while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. In another bowl, cream: 2 sticks (1 cup) of softened margarine or butter 1 cup of sugar 2 eggs Sift in the following: 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 3/4 cups flour 3 tablespoons cocoa To this, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 - 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips - depending on your taste for chocolate. I have a big plastic container I keep them in, so I simply pour in enough chips to look thickly distributed in the batter. If you're using a regular sized package, use the whole thing. Add the date mixture and stir it all together. If the consistency looks runny - dripping off the spoon within a second - add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more flour. It should coat the spoon with the consistency of honey. Pour the batter into the greased 9"x13" pan and gently turn it to make it level all around. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes - testing with a toothpick for doneness. If it comes out clean (unless you hit a chip), it is ready. Let cool and cut into bars. Freezes well. Voila!