Last Update: January 17, 2023
Naturally sweet, delicious on their own as a snack, and perfect for blending into desserts and drinks—what’s not to like about dates?
In this easy gluten-free dessert recipe, dates (one of 2023’s hottest ingredients, in case you hadn’t heard) create the base of a rich, luscious chocolate filling atop a crumbly oat crust. Topped with chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and a sprinkle of flaky salt, the result is like a cross between a fudgy brownie and a decadent granola bar.
Yield: 16 bars
Total time: 50 minutes, plus cooling
1 cup pitted dates, packed (13-14 dates)
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups oat flour
1 ½ cups gluten-free rolled oats
½ cup coconut sugar (or granulated sweetener of choice)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temp
⅓ cup nuts of choice, chopped (try walnuts, peanuts, or hazelnuts)
¼ cup dark chocolate chips, or chocolate bar broken into pieces
Pinch flaky sea salt
Position an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the date paste, add the pitted dates, hot (just boiled) water, cocoa powder, and vanilla to a blender or food processor. Blend for a few seconds until mostly smooth. (It’s ok to have some date chunks in there.) Set mixture aside to cool and thicken slightly while making the oat base.
To make the oat base, add the oat flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda to a large mixing bowl. Mix well using a whisk or fork.
Add the coconut oil (either melted to a liquid and cooled to room temperature, or in a soft solid state) to the dry ingredients and mix well. The mixture should be crumbly, not too dry or soggy.
Reserve about ⅓ cup of the oat mixture for the topping. Add the rest to the baking pan, spreading evenly and pressing firmly to form a solid base.
Pour the date mixture on top of the oat base and spread evenly using a spatula or offset. Sprinkle evenly with the reserved oat mixture. Top with chopped nuts of choice and chocolate chips, and finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the nuts have turned a slight toasty color. Be sure not to overbake as the oat base can easily dry out.
When done, remove the pan and set on a wire rack to cool for 45 to 50 minutes. Once at room temperature, use the parchment paper to lift bake out of the pan. Set on a cutting board and cut into 16 bars.
Recipe credit: Aubrey Devin
Photo credit: Elisha Knight
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