My Christmas tree is up and there is a big-plaid-bowed, glittery swag hanging on my front door! Ding ding! It’s time to start sharing some holiday cookie recipes! Had the fam over for our first Thanksgiving Dinner in the new condo, and I started the Christmas Cookie season by making Holiday Chocolate Sticks! They came out perfect and made me think of other favorite bar cookies. This 7-Ingredient Date, Apple, and Oat Bars are inspired by a family recipe that I’ve enjoyed since I was small. Dates! Oh how I love them. I remember this simple bar cookie as dates, oats, crumbly crust and loose topping. They were kinda a mess to eat but oh, so incredibly good.
I remember making what we called ‘Date Bars’ during Christmas Cookie baking sessions growing up. My Mom brought me a copy of her recipe and it is quite simple. Still, I wanted to try to substitute healthier ingredients when I can, and remove those I didn’t see a reason for. The original recipe contained baking soda which always gave the bars an occasional bitter taste. I guess the intention was to cut the sweetness of the super sweet dates. I decided to remove the baking soda and use golden delicious apples to do the same thing.
Medjool Dates…and add a Golden Delicious Apple.
Start by chopping up a half a pound or about 12 or so medjool dates and add to a small sauce pan. Add some water and a chopped golden delicious apple. Simmer for 10 minutes until the apples and dates are softened and broken down. Press down with a rubber spatula on the softened fruit to help combine.
That amazing crust..
This crust topping for these 7-Ingredient Date, Apple, and Oat Bars is amazingly simple: brown sugar, coconut oil, flours, oats, and salt. That’s it. I can still smell this heavenly aroma in the house. So simple and so wonderful. It’s a perfect base for these simple bars. Mix the coconut oil and brown sugar until blended. Add AP flour and whole wheat flour, oats, and salt. It will be a very crumbly, almost too dry mixture. When you press it in your palm, it should hold together.
Press a little over half the mixture into an 8″x8″ pan. This makes a very thick bar, about 1 1/2″ in height. If you prefer a thinner bar, you can certainly press the crust into a 9″x13″ pan which is how the original recipe was intended. I like a thicker bar so I make these in the smaller pan.
Layer on the now cooled dates and apple blend and spread into an even layer, leaving a small edge around the pan.
Top with the remaining oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, and coconut oil mixture. This is a very dry mix and when eating, much of the topping will fall off onto the plate. Pro Tip: serve these bars with vegan vanilla ice cream.
That flyaway topping…
Once you get the rest of the topping mix on, spread out into an even layer. It will be thick! If you want, you may press down gently to compress the topping so it’ll hold together a little more. Or just get ready to go with your inner child and make a mess with your food. Come on! Get wild!
Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
Cut into bars while still warm. I cut this 8″x8″ pan into 16 bars. They were more like squares. Like squares squared. A cube. Yep, a cube of date and apple, brown sugar and oat goodness. Cool completely ( if you can wait) or have just slightly warm with some ice cream. Yumm-meee!
Other Fav Holiday Bar Cookies!:
- Pineapple Coconut Bars and Cherry Coconut Bars
- PB Cooperative Cherry Chocolate Chip Bar
- Holiday Chocolate Sticks (Vegan)
How did I make 7-Ingredient Date, Apple, and Oat Bars…healthier?:
- Coconut oil replaces shortening and margarine. I know…I know. There’s all this buzz right now about coconut oil and it not being the health food we’ve all made it out to be. IDK. No one will be able to tell me that Crisco and coconut oil are on the same level health wise. And margarine…please.
- Medjool dates. ’nuff said. No really…this deliciously sweet fruit is chock full of nutrients. It is what is termed a ‘nutritionally dense food’ as it is full of fiber, potassium, micronutrients…and it tastes like a dream. Yes, it is a sweet, but a healthy sweet.
- Oats make up a great portion of this bar cookie providing plenty of cholesterol busting fiber.
- Half the flour is replaced with whole wheat flour.
- Date filling:
- ½ lb. medjool dates, pitted and chopped (1.5 cups or approx.12 dates)
- 1 Golden Delicious Apple, medium, chopped
- .75 Cup water
- Crust and topping:
- 1 Cup packed brown sugar
- ¾ Cup coconut oil, room temperature
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1.5 Cup, quick cooking oats
- 1 Cup AP flour
- .75 Cup White Whole Wheat flour
- Preheat 400 degrees
- Make filing by simmering in a small sauce pan chopped, pitted dates and chopped apple with water over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Off heat, break up pieces of apple and blend in with the softened dates. Allow to cool.
- While date mixture is cooking, mix brown sugar and coconut oil until evenly mixed. Then blend in the remaining salt, oats, and flours. The mixture when squeezed in your palm, should hold together.
- Press a little more than half the mixture in an even layer into an 8”X8” baking pan. (for thinner bars, you may bake in a larger pan, i.e. 9"x13")
- Spread crust base with cooled date and apple mixture, leaving a small edge around base of pan.
- Sprinkle the remaining half of oat, brown sugar, flour and coconut oil mixture on top of filling and press down lightly. It is a very thick topping.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then cut into 1.5" square bars. Approximately 16 cookie bars on an 8"x8" pan.
The post 7-Ingredient Date, Apple, and Oat Bars appeared first on Designing Vegan. If you make these special, comforting bars, I’d love to see your pics of them! Post to Instagram or Facebook and tag it with #designingvegan