A day of delicious summer foods just feels complete with a slice of something chilled and chocolatey (that, or some watermelon with a sprinkle of salt)! Alternatively, do as I did and have a couple of these date caramel mocha bars as a post-workout recovery food.
In all seriousness… date caramel is a wonderful thing. For anyone who hasn’t encountered it before, it’s just softened dates, pureed with a splash of nondairy milk and a bit of fat (in this case, I used coconut butter). The rich, molasses-like notes of the dates are reminiscent of a cooked caramel, but without any of the sugar and without any cooking! Of course, I did use a makeshift double boiler here to melt the chocolate, but that’s quick and easy.
The other thing I really like about these date caramel mocha bars is the crust. It’s made from oats, raw almonds, and a few more dates. So simple! It’s incredibly difficult not to eat more than one of these luscious bars. But there’s no reason to worry about that, since they’re completely oil-free as well as refined sugar-free. The only place with any sweetener used is the chocolate layer, which is sweetened with a touch of brown rice syrup and low-glycemic coconut sugar. You can also substitute maple syrup or agave for the brown rice syrup, and brown or white sugar for the coconut sugar, according to what’s in your own pantry. And of course, there are substitutions available for the coconut butter too. This is why freezer desserts are so great: it’s really hard to mess them up. 🙂
Between the chewiness of the almond-oat crust, the almost custard-like texture of the date caramel layer, and the toothsome chocolate on top… I think these are pretty close to perfect. =] see for yourself and make these super easy, *somewhat* healthy date caramel bars for your next treat!
- ¼ c. + 2 tb. quick or rolled oats (gf if needed)
- ¼ c. + 2 tb. raw almonds
- ½ tb. ground flaxseed
- ¼ c. pitted dates, soaked in hot water for at least 2 hours
- 2 tb. nondairy milk of choice
- 1 c. pitted dates, soaked in hot water for at least 2 hours
- ¼ c. coconut butter (substitute coconut oil or nut butter)
- 1 ripe banana
- (optional) ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
- ⅓ tsp. fine sea salt
- nondairy milk as needed
- 28 g. vegan dark chocolate (4 squares of chocolate for me - I used unsweetened but sweetened will work)
- 2 tb. coconut butter or coconut oil
- 1 and ½ tb. brown rice syrup (or 1 tb. maple syrup or agave nectar)
- 1 tb. coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2 tsp. instant coffee granules
- 2 tb. nondairy milk + more as needed
- Prepare a small, freezer-safe dish lined with parchment paper.
- Add everything except the milk to a blender or food processor and pulse until fine crumbs are formed.
- Add the milk and pulse a couple more times until the mixture starts to stick to itself.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish in an even layer and place in the freezer to set.
- Combine the dates, coconut butter, ripe banana, vanilla, and sea salt in the blender or food processor until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides and adding milk a tablespoon at a time as needed to blend.
- Spread the date caramel mixture on top of the prepared almond-oat crust.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer and place a heat-safe bowl on top of it (or use your double boiler). Add all of the ganache ingredients to the bowl.
- Use a spatula to continuously stir around the ingredients to combine them as the chocolate melts, and remove from the heat once a smooth and shiny mixture is formed.
- If the mixture seizes up (starts to get an almost crumbly look to it instead of silky), add another splash of nondairy milk and a pinch of sugar, and keep stirring continuously until it turns smooth again.
- Pour the ganache in an even layer over the date caramel layer and return to the freezer.
- Let set for about 3 hours before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in the freezer.
Inspired by Vegan Richa’s Salted Date Caramel Chocolate Pie.