Vegan Cookie Dough Bars with Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter

These Vegan Cookie Dough Bars have become a fixture in our home. They fulfill my mid-afternoon craving for something sweet, without sending me into a sugar coma. Ben takes them to the office to eat with his lunch. I’ve even introduced them to multiple friends, none of whom could believe they don’t contain a spec of butter, refined sugar, or flour.

I’ve made these Vegan Cookie Dough Bars both with and without the extra layer of chocolate on top.

Without the chocolate, they remind me a little of Larabars and other similar fruit-and-nut based energy bars, minus the weird chewiness. They are certainly sweet enough to pass for dessert but are not SO sweet that you’d be reprimanded for eating one with your morning coffee or for a post-workout snack.

WITH the chocolate, however, boy oh boy. That is where you’ll find me, my superlatives, and depending upon how long you wait, nothing but an empty container and a telltale chocolate smear on face.

These no-bake Vegan Cookie Dough Bars will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator and freeze beautifully, so in the unlikely event you don’t eat them all right away, they’ll be happy to wait for you.

Ingredients

For the cookie dough filling:

  • 1/2 cup pitted medjool dates
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats — certified gluten free if needed
  • 3/4 cup  almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter — almond butter, or cashew butter (I used the natural, drippy kind that is stored in the refrigerator)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips — about 2 ounces; dairy free if needed

FOR THE CHOCOLATE TOPPING (optional):

  • 2/3 cup chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips — about 4 ounces; dairy free if needed
  • teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions

  1. If your dates are at all dry, place them in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit 5 minutes, then drain. Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  2. Add the oats and pulse until the oats are broken down and the mixture forms a sticky ball that sticks to the sides of the bowl. Add the almond flour, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and pulse until the mixture forms a smooth paste, stopping to scrape the bowl and break up the ingredients as needed. If the mixture seems very dry (this may happen depending upon the moisture content in your dates and nut butter), add water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough just sticks together when you press it with your fingers. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the mini chocolate chips.
  3. Line an 8×4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving some of the paper hanging out on two sides like handles. Scoop the dough into the pan and press it into an even layer, pressing it all the way into the corners. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, until set.
  4. For the chocolate topping: In a microwave-safe bowl or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate. If microwaving, check and stir it every 15 seconds to prevent burning. When the chocolate is almost but not yet completely melted, remove from heat and stir in the coconut oil until completely melted and smooth. Spread the melted chocolate over the cooled bars, then return them to the freezer for 10 to 20 additional minutes to set completely. Remove from the pan using the parchment overhang, slice, and enjoy.

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