These Cranberry Date Bars are sweet, sticky and full of flavour. They’re vegan, only use a few ingredients and will satisfy that craving for something sweet!
Hiya everyone, hope your 2022 has got off to a good start! I’m here to share my first recipe of the year today: Vegan Cranberry Date Bars. These bars are perfect for breakfast on the go or for a mid afternoon pick me up. Soft, squidgy, sweet and sticky, they will satisfy your craving for something sweet and you know exactly what is in them!
I’m fairly late to dates; I always thought I didn’t like them. No idea why, maybe I was confusing them with another fruit. However… during my recovery I’ve had some digestive issues due to swelling and where one clump of clots is. So, I’ve been really trying to up my fibre and water.
One of my friends suggested I get a bag of pitted dates from Aldi to try. So, I did and WOAH I’ve been missing out! Rich, sticky, sweet, they’re incredible! I’ve had them with dairy free yoghurt, with strawberries, with porridge, alone. I can’t get enough!
I’ve seen many recipes over the years with dates in and read about how great they are in baking. So, I decided to try for myself. I daresay, this is the start of many date recipes because they are incredible in these bars and every other way I’ve tried them!
Using the dates also means there’s less added sugar in this recipe as they’re naturally sweet. I decided to pair them up with dried cranberries to make that sweet and slightly tangy combination I adore.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes all sweet gets too much. Ever had something where it’s like your teeth hurt because it’s so sweet?! Not the best, so I love to add a little something to juxtapose that and cut through the sweetness.
I have made similar bars to this with a shortbread base and crumble. However, I wanted to go more breakfast bar with these, so I did an oat base and topping. It’s egg free, so super easy to make vegan with the butter you use.
LET’S GO OVER HOW TO MAKE THESE VEGAN CRANBERRY DATE BARS…
You can either use pre chopped dates like I did, or chop them yourself. I went for pre chopped for speed and the fact they come coated and are all the same size. However, if you want there to be a bit more texture to these bars and for there to be larger and smaller chunks, then chop them yourself.
To begin with, I made a date and cranberry paste. This is so that the filling becomes like a rich jam once baked. I placed the chopped dates, dried cranberries, a little sugar, flour, vanilla extract and water into a medium sized saucepan and cooked it until thickened and bubbling.
Leave the cranberry and date mixture to cool slightly while you make the oat mixture.
This mixture couldn’t be easier to make. All you need is flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vegan butter and oats. I put everything but the oats into a large bowl and used a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. You could also do this with your fingers.
If you decide to mix this by hand, go ahead and add the oats in at the start. The reason I added the oats in after combining the other dry ingredients and butter is because I wanted the oats to be whole. If I’d used the pastry cutter on them, they would be chopped up into little pieces.
Once you have a texture like coarse breadcrumbs, add some milk. I’ve made this recipe many times and the amount of milk you need can vary. I’ve made this mixture non vegan, with egg, and needed less milk as the egg acts as a binder as well. Sometimes the oats are drier too and you’ll need a bit more. Just add it 1tbsp at a time until a soft dough forms. The dough shouldn’t be sticky, but just hold together.
I placed 2/3 of the mixture into an 8×8 inch square pan, then spread my slightly cooled date mixture on top before crumbling the remaining oat mixture on top. It’s fine if the mixture doesn’t fully cover the fruit mixture, it’s meant to be like that. I love when the fruit layer peeks through the topping!
Place your Cranberry Date Bars in the oven for 32-37 minutes, leave to cool and dig in. These bars keep really well in an airtight container, but they don’t last long in my house as I eat them all!
Enjoyed this recipe? Then check these ones out:
- Nut Free Blueberry Granola Bars
- Carrot and Apple Oat Muffins
- Raspberry Dark Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats
Vegan Cranberry Date Bars
- FOR THE CRANBERRY DATE MIXTURE:
- 1 1/2 cups (225g) pitted dates, or you can use pre chopped ones
- 1 1/2 cups (150g) dried cranberries
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- FOR THE OAT MIXTURE:
- 1 1/2 cups (210g) plain/all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stick (113g) cold vegan butter, or dairy butter
- 2 cups (160g) rolled oats
- 4-5 tbsp milk, use dairy or non dairy; whichever you prefer
- Preheat the oven to 160C/325F and line an 8×8 inch square pan with grease proof paper. Alternatively, spray with cooking spray and place a strip of grease proof with overhang to lift the bars out.
- Make the cranberry date mixture first: Place dates, cranberries, sugar and flour into a medium sized saucepan and stir until all the fruit is coated in flour. Add the water and vanilla extract.
- Place over a medium heat and, stirring continuously, bring to a gentle boil. Continue to cook until the mixture thickens and becomes a paste. You're not wanting all the fruit to become mush, so don't cook it for too long, just until the flour is cooked and the mixture is thick. Leave to one side while you make the oat mixture.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and vegan (or dairy) butter into a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Continue until you have a coarse breadcrumb texture. Add in the oats and stir.
- Alternatively, you can make the oat mixture by hand. If you're doing it by hand add the oats in with all the other dry ingredients and rub the butter into the dry ingredients. I added the oats after because I used a pastry cutter and didn't want the oats chopped up.
- Whichever way you combine the butter and dry ingredients, once you have your breadcrumb texture, start to add the milk. Add 1tbsp at a time and mix with a wooden spoon. Continue mixing and adding milk, 1tbsp at a time, until the dough just holds together. You don't want it to be sticky, so slightly less milk is better than too much.
- Add 2/3 of the oat mixture into your prepared pan and press into an even layer. Spoon the cooled cranberry date mixture and spread all over the oat base.
- With the remaining oat mixture, crumble it over the fruit filling. You'll have bits of the fruit peeking through, that's absolutely fine and how it's meant to be!
- Place in the oven for 32-37 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and an inserted skewer into the centre comes out clean and hot.
- Leave to cool in the pan before transferring to a cutting board and slicing into 9-12 squares. You won't need a huge slice as these are quite rich, so I'd advise slicing them into 12.
- Vegan Cranberry Date Bars will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for a week.