These healthy vegan, gluten-free pecan caramel bars are made with oats, dates, maple syrup, pecans, and a handful of other ingredients. They’re the perfect holiday slice!
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 6 large, soft pitted Medjool dates
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Date Pecan Caramel Layer
- 8 large, soft pitted Medjool dates
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons tahini or nut butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup raw pecan halves
- 1/2 cup raw pecan halves
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
- Make the base: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 8×8-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. Leave enough overhang so that you’ll be able to lift the bar out of the dish easily.
- Grind the oats into a coarse flour in a food processor. Add the coconut oil, dates, salt, and nutmeg. Process until the mixture begins to stick together. You’ll know that it has the proper texture when it sticks together when you press it between your fingers. Note: If it remains crumbly, even after a good long process, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and process again until it sticks together. Sometimes, if your dates are not super fresh/gooey, it’s a bit crumbly and you need to add water; other times, water isn’t necessary.
- Transfer the base mixture into the prepared dish. Starting in the middle and pushing outwards with your fingers, press down into an even layer. The more firmly you press it together, the better- we want it to hold together once baked and sliced. 🙂
- Using a fork, poke several holes in it to allow air to escape. Bake for 10 minutes while you prepare the date pecan caramel layer.
- Make the date pecan caramel layer: Add dates, maple syrup, tahini or nut butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt to a food processor. Process until smooth. This will take a couple of minutes. Once smooth, add the pecan halves and pulse until they are very finely chopped and incorporated.
- Spoon the date pecan caramel onto the pre-baked crust. Because it is so sticky, you’ll need to either wet your hands or use a wet spatula to carefully spread it over the surface of the crust.
- Make the topping: Toss together the pecans, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a small dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the date pecan caramel, followed by the pecans. Gently press in to the caramel.
- Put the pan back into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. (I baked mine for 15.)
- Let it cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.
Crust adapted from the Pecan Cranberry Pie in The My New Roots Cookbook by Sarah Britton.