Vegan dessert bars are the perfect sweet treat for any time of year! They are fun to make and so tasty! These chocolate pecan pie bars are the ultimate level of yum in your tum. They're almost like toffee! Crunchy, maple crust, a chewy date caramel center, and a sweet, sticky topping of pecans and ooey-gooey chocolate. It's vegan dessert bar bliss. In addition to being vegan, they're paleo and gluten-free! With these chocolate pecan pie bars, you get to have your cake (or vegan dessert bar that is) and eat it too!
Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars With Date Caramel [Vegan, Gluten-Free, Paleo]
For the Pecan Topping:
- 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon flax meal
- 2 1/2 tablespoons warm water
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
For the Crust:
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, at room temperature (should be the consistency of softened butter)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted, about 66 grams (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- A pinch of sea salt
For the Caramel:
- 2 cups lightly packed Medjool dates, cut into halves
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon hot unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- Heat your oven to 375°F and line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang to use as a handle once the bars are cooked.
- Place the pecans from the topping onto a small baking sheet and cook until lightly browned and toasty smelling, about 5-10 minutes. Watch them closely as they burn quickly. Once cooked, chop the pecans and reduce your oven temperature to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flax meal and warm water. Place into the refrigerator to gel.
- In a large bowl, beat the maple syrup and coconut oil together using an electric hand beater until creamy and well combined. Stir in the coconut flour, cocoa powder, and salt until it forms a dough.
- Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake until the edges darken, and the crust appears set, about 9 minutes. Your crust will probably have risen and cracked a little bit when it comes out of the oven, use the pack of a small spoon to pack it down so it’s flat and crack-free. Once it's out of the oven, cool for 5 minutes.
- While the crust cools, place the chopped dates in a medium, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until hot, but not burned, about 1-1 minute and 30 seconds
- Add the hot dates into a small food processor and use the "chop" setting until they are broken down into small pieces.
- Then, turn to the "purée" setting until the dates are creamy and begin to form a ball.
- With the food processor running, stream in the coconut oil and hot almond milk (microwave it for 30 seconds or so) until the dates are broken down, sticky, and smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Once the crust has finished cooling for 5 minutes, gently spread the date caramel on top evenly, making sure to not break the crust.
- Then, combine the coconut sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt (for the topping) in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and then remove from heat. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 3 minutes.
- Once ready, add the chilled flax egg and mix well. Finally, stir in the chopped pecans until they are coated in the sugar mixture.
- Pour the topping over the caramel, using a spoon to spread out and make sure the sugar mixture and pecans are evenly coating the caramel. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips
- Bake until the edges are golden brown, the middle appears set, and begins to rise a little bit, about 18 minutes. Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Then, cover the bars and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight.
- Slice into bars and serve.
Due to varying densities between coconut flour brands, you must weigh your coconut flour to achieve accurate results.