Incredible vegan and gluten free date oat bars packed with a gooey date, espresso and dark chocolate filling. With a crunchy bottom, unique flavors, and wholesome ingredients, these make a scrumptious treat or snack.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper so that you're able to easily remove the bars after. This is important! Grease the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare the filling first: Add dates, hot water, espresso powder and vanilla to a high-powered blender and blend until mostly smooth, about 2 minutes. It's okay if there are a few chunky pieces of dates. Allow date mixture to cool and thicken up a bit for 5 minutes while you make the base.
To make the oat base and crumble: in a large bowl, combine oat flour, oats, brown sugar baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in melted coconut oil until the mixture is crumbly. Measure out 1 cup of the mixture and set aside in a small bowl (this will be for the topping). Press the remaining mixture into the prepared pan; you'll need to press hard to ensure that all of the mixture will stick together well.
Gently spread date mixture evenly on top of the base crust. Sprinkle on chopped dark chocolate (or chocolate chips) then sprinkle the reserved oat topping over the top.
Bake bars for 30-35 minutes or until top is set and slightly golden brown. If you'd like you can also sprinkle the chocolate with a tiny bit of coarse sea salt for a salty and sweet combo. Transfer to wire rack to cool for at least an hour to help set the base, then remove from pan to cool completely. Makes 16 bars. Bars are best kept covered in the fridge and are delicious when served chilled as well as at room temperature.
To make completely vegan: Make sure you use a vegan chocolate bar. Theo makes a nice 85% vegan chocolate bar.
To make gluten free: Use gluten free oat flour and gluten free oats.
If you'd like you can make these bars without the espresso powder, they will still be delicious and even kid-friendly!
How to store these date oat bars:
In the fridge: Store these bars covered in the fridge for up to 1 week. When you’re ready to eat them, just let them come to room temp for about 5 minutes so that they soften a bit.
In the freezer: yes, you can freeze these gluten free date bars! Place them in the freezer for up to 2 months in an airtight container. I’d recommend separating the bars with parchment wax paper as well. When you’re ready to eat them, let the bars thaw in the fridge and then bring them to room temp as described above.