Date and Pecan Bars
Stella and I safely and soundly arrived in Boston just in time for Thanksgiving. It would be our first at home, the first time my mother would make the stuffing and the pies.
My mother followed my grandma’s apple pie recipe to the letter, my sister made a pumpkin cheesecake, but, in typical fashion, my mother decided that classic pecan pie was too ooey and gooey and sugary and “plastic”. Instead, she would make Vegan Date and Pecan Bars.
When I heard you could see my eyes rolling and nose scrunching from a mile away. Because, really? I flew for 24 hours alone with a pint-sized Speedy Gonzales just to make it home in time for Thanksgiving and she’s making vegan date bars? My brother was similarly unimpressed. At least she will have something to eat, we thought.
Now, it’s officially the holiday season and that means you’ll be eating – and perhaps making – lots of cookies. You may be excited by the idea, or, like my dear mother, you may be looking for a no-sugar, no-butter, no-dairy alternative. Either way, these bars are for you.
They were such a hit that my mom had to make a second batch so my brother and his girlfriend could bring them back to D.C. Even little Stella – who has a very discerning palate (aka eats like a bird) – wolfs them down.
Admittedly, they aren’t the prettiest cookie you’ll have this holiday season, and the ingredients list (coconut oil, dates, coconut, pecans, dark chocolate and not much else) may not be the most tempting. As a nut-skeptic and a butter snob, for me to just try one took a little convincing. Falling in love, though? Only took one bite.
VEGAN DATE & PECAN BARS
These bars are vegan and Paleo-friendly, so they’re perfect for everyone. Seriously. Don’t let their healthy qualities deter you. They aren’t baked and are best eaten straight out of the freezer – like most cookies, in my opinion. The bottom layer is slightly chewy and the top is creamy – and there’s a crunchy layer of dark chocolate in the middle. My mom found the recipe on The Detoxinista via Tastespotting. I’ll copy and paste the recipe directly from the Detoxinista, whose description I can’t beat. And please excuse the horrible photo quality – I was that eager to share these babies with you. Happy baking!
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For the filling: 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup raw pecans
- ¼ cup water, or more as needed for blending
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
For topping: 1 cup of additional pecans
- Optional: 1½ cups dark chocolate chips, divided for filling/topping
- Line an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with plastic wrap, for easy removal of the bars.
- In a large food processor, combine the crust ingredients and blend until a sticky dough is formed. Press the crust into the lined baking sheet, using your hands or a spatula to smooth it out. *For dark chocolate pecan pie bars, melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips and pour the melted chocolate over the crust, using a spatula to spread evenly.
- Place the crust in the freezer to set, while you prepare the filling.
- For the filling, combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender, or food processor, and blend until thoroughly combined. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides, or use a tamper, to keep everything blending smoothly. Adjust sweetness to taste, if necessary.
- Remove the crust from the freezer, and pour in the filling, using a spatula to smooth the top. Sprinkle the additional cup of raw pecans over the top, and gently press them into the filling for easy serving. Drizzle an additional ½ cup of melted dark chocolate chips over the top, if desired.
- Return the bars to the freezer, and allow them to set for at least 6 hours, or overnight, before cutting and serving.”