The past 3 days with Lieutenant Dan here at home with us have been a dream. He already feels like Family...with a capital F. It feels like he's always been with us. We can't believe how much the little guy has already adapted to our daily routine. Carlos is loving having him around, and we couldn't be more happy about that. Zero aggression at the food bowl, and there doesn't seem to be any territory issues. We actually feel like Carlos has a sense of just how small and delicate Dan is.
But jeez, with all this dog stuff the week has flown by! We are doing our best to work on orders without being distracted by that cute little guy staring longingly at us. We want to just eat him up all day! We could go on and on...but this post is actually about baking! We were in the mood for something sweet, crumbly, and wholesome tasting. Something sweet that's mostly nuts, oats, and fruit. We had just picked up some dates on our last shopping trip and wanted them to be the base of whatever dessert we'd decide to bake. So we found this recipe for Vegan Date Bars and just had to give them a try!
We really didn't veer too far off course from the original recipe. Just slight adjustments. In the end they turned out to be exactly what we were craving. Sweet but not too sweet, crumbly, crusty, filling...and easy!
Here is what you will need:
lightly greased or sprayed 9" x 13" baking pan
2 cups pitted chopped dates
1/2 cup coconut sugar (we used light brown sugar instead)
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup almonds finely ground
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups Quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
First, we prepared our filling. We chopped our dates into fine pieces in the food processor.
Then, in a skillet we added the chopped dates, the water, and the 1/2 cup of light brown sugar (again, feel free to use coconut sugar instead) Next, we stirred and cooked it over medium high heat. Then we turned the heat down a bit and cooked it until it thickened. Once thickened we added the vanilla and almond extracts, and the finely ground almonds. We stirred it until it looked like the pic above. Next, you'll transfer it to a bowl to cool for a bit.
Now for the crust. We creamed the vegan butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. We used our Kitchen Aid, but you can always use a hand mixer.
Next we added the flour, baking soda, and salt...and mixed it some more.
Then we added the oats and mixed well. Don't expect it to turn out like dough...it will be crumbly.
But the crumbly texture is exactly what you're looking for. Next you'll sprinkle half of the crust into your prepared pan. Then press it down with your fingers.
The next layer is the filling. It's pretty thick and sticky, so your best bet is to drop spoonfuls of it all around. Then you can use a spoon to smooth it out in an even layer over the entire bottom crust. Press and spread carefully so that you don't pull up the bottom crust.
Then cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and press down. You'll pop this in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Then remove and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then cut into squares while still warm.
They really turned out great. We think there is a perfect ratio of sweet filling to nutty/oaty, just-ever-so-slightly salted crust. We have them stored in an air tight container in the fridge. We each ate one first at room temperature and then today had one straight from the fridge...and both of us liked the chilled version even better. The original recipe says they freeze well, and can thaw on the counter for an hour. Aaron's mom had one with coffee and said it was perfect.
We highly recommend these! I was just about to try to formulate some terrible pun/joke about not having to go out to a Bar for a Date...that you could stay home and have the Date in the Bar or whatever...terrible idea...but too late now! Anyway...enjoy some Vegan Date Bars! They are no joke! derp.
xo, Jenny & Aaron
and Carlos and Lieutenant Dan