Oat + Nut Chewy Granola Bars (date sweetened!)

Did I ever tell you about the time I started a granola bar business? Actually, I know I told you, but it was eons ago. If you've been reading from eons ago, you may remember this. If you lived in Charlotte, NC maybe you even sampled a bar at the farmer's market? 

Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com

I started the business because I was tired of store bought granola bars and their mile-long ingredient lists. I wanted to create an oat-based bar that was chewy, full of flavor, and short on ingredients. It took some time to develop the recipe, and at first, I had no intention of turning it into a business.

It's kind of a blur as to how that all even happened. I remember some tears, numerous trips to the business license office, and 40lb bags of rolled oats. I sold the bars at a farmer's market in Charlotte and a few local convenient stores the summer before moving to Colorado. I didn't continue the business after we moved because it just wasn't financially feasiable at the time, with having to rent commercial kitchen space, etc.

It was a (mostly) fun adventure while it lasted.

Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com

Anyway!

I've always been a huge fan of oat-based granola bars but there aren't actually too many on the market. Today I'm sharing my latest recipe for chewy granola bars that are 100% date sweetened, super chewy, but still packed with texture!

Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com

You may be thinking, is this just another Larabar knock-off recipe? And my answer is no! They're filled to the brim with oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, and more. You really don't even realize they're a date based bar! The dates bind the bars together and give them their sweet, chewy texture, but these bars are all about the mix-ins.

The dates are actually turned into a paste and then combined with coconut oil and a bit of nut butter to further help bind the bars together. 

Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com

I wouldn't change around the ratios much, as these amounts are what worked well with the specified amount of dates that were used. If you use more mix-ins than specified the bars will not hold together. You'll end up with more of a granola-type mixture, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing and would at least be highly edible! Here are my (un-tested) thoughts on subbing some of the ingredients. 

Substitution Tips:

  • Dates are mandatory in this recipe. Specifically, medjool dates will work best. (Costco even sells these in bulk for a great price!)
  • If you don't have hemp seeds you could add well chopped sunflower seeds instead or even chia seeds. 
  • It's important that the nuts are well chopped before adding to the food processor, or the grinding will be too uneven (you'll get flour too quickly while still having some un-chopped nuts).
  • If you don't want to add the chocolate, you can simply leave it out and replace with 3-4 tablespoons of nuts (be sure to chop and process them as specified below).
  • Instead of coconut, feel free to sub another 1/4 cup of hemp seeds and 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds instead. 

There's a little play with this recipe, but I found the mixture below  to work best. When I left the ingredients larger they were more difficult to chop and crumbled more.

Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com
Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com
Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com

Print Recipe!

Oat + Nut Chewy Granola Bars (date sweetened!) gluten-free, vegan // yields 16 bars

  • 1 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup well-chopped raw nuts (a mixture works well - almonds/walnuts/pecans)
  • 12 medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons softened unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon thick nut butter (I used cashew butter)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preheat your oven to 300° F. 

Place oats in your food processor and process for 5-10 seconds until ground into a course meal. You still want some whole oats to remain (refer photo 2). Toast on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, stirring once, or until light golden brown and fragrant.

Place chopped nuts in your food processor and turn on until finely chopped. You want about 1/2 course meal and 1/2 small bits. Place on a baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes, stirring once, until lightly toasted.

Remove both and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Increase oven to 350° F. 

Line a 9x9 cake pan with parchment paper. 

While toasting the oats and nuts, wipe out your food processor. Place the pitted dates in your processor and turn on until a smooth paste forms. This takes about 30 seconds - 1 minute. They'll go from chopped, to a large ball, and finally smooth out into a smooth paste. You'll end up with 1/2 heaping cup. Scrape sides as needed (refer to photo 4). 

Transfer the date paste to a large mixing bowl. Stir/mash in the coconut oil, nut butter, and vanilla until well combined. Add the cooled oats, nuts, coconut, chocolate, hemp, cinnamon, and salt. Mix together with your hands until fully incorporated. The mixture will look crumbly but should hold together when squeezed. If it feels very soft and gooey add 1/4 cup more oats.

Empty mixture into your lined pan and spread evenly to the edges and corners. Place a piece of parchment over top and firmly press down with your palms until well-compacted and fully smooth from edge to edge. Be sure the corners well packed. It helps to get above the pan and put your weight into it. Press as firmly as you can.

Bake for 8 minutes.
 
Remove and let cool for 1 hour. Place the pan in the fridge and let chill for at least 2 hours. Carefully lift one edge of parchment and slide the bars and parchment from the pan to a cutting board (support the bottom with your hand or flat spatula). Chop into bars with a long, sharp knife. Keep tightly covered in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. 


Notes:

  • Make sure your dates are plump and fresh (they should be very tacky/chewy). If your dates are on the small side you may need a few extra. 
  • The edges/corners may crumble a bit when chopping but if your nuts and oats were well ground they should hold together well. 
  • Bars can be stacked in an airtight container or individually wrapped and kept in the fridge. They'll hold together in cool/moderate temps but soften once warm.
Nut + Oat Chewy Granola Bars (sweetened with dates!) | edibleperspective.com

Mmmmmm, Friday! Enjoy it!

Ashley

psst! Follow my weekend adventures over on Instagram while I'm in California for a small blogger retreat at the (amazing!) Terranea Resort

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two

I am beyond excited for this post today! Why, you ask?

  1. cake.
  2. berries.
  3. coconut whipped cream layered in between cake.
  4. more cake.
  5. Christina's virtual baby shower!
Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

And because Christina is the master of making Dessert for Two, I thought I'd try my hand at it to help her celebrate this new little person she's about to bring into the world. I've known Christina through the blogging world for a few years now and she couldn't be sweeter (her personality + her recipes!). She's always given me so much support on my own blog, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. It's pretty amazing to think about this blogging world and how many talented, kind + generous friends I've gained from it. The only hard part is that everyone lives so far away! 

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

In thinking about this recipe, I wanted to create a dessert that would work for spring or summer. One that you could make for a special date night with your significant other, your best friend, or your mom. Something refreshing and bright but also decadent.

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com
Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

I started with the cake.

It uses a simple blend of almond flour, oat flour, and sorghum flour, which is becoming my new blend of choice for cake. While I love the dense consistency oat flour and almond flour produce, the sorghum creates a lighter, fluffier cake. I am really digging the texture. Nothing gummy or "gluten-free" about it.

Besides the nutty flavor from the flours, you'll also taste a light almond-vanilla flavor and a hint of coconut if you have a sensitive pallet. 

It's nearly impossible to stop eating this cake. (Proof.) But try really hard so the cake actually makes it to the parfait making stage!

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

The coconut whipped cream is lightly sweetened and flavored with a little more of that almond-vanilla goodness. 

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

Toasted almonds provide just the right amount of crunch and the berries lend a juiciness that tie all of the components together.

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

Now, if only I could share this with Christina!

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

Time to dig in.

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

Print Recipe!

adapted from my: Orange Cream Cupcakes with Strawberry Vanilla Frosting

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two gluten-free // yields 2 large parfaits 

for the almond cake:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 1/3 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/3 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled

for the coconut whipped cream:

  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup coconut cream (leftover from what was used in the cake)
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/16 - 1/8 teaspoon almond extract

toppings:

  • strawberries/blueberries/raspberries
  • sliced, toasted almonds

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line an 8x4 loaf pan with parchment paper. (Grease the short ends with coconut oil if you don't line in both directions.)

Scoop the solid white cream layer from the coconut milk can and place in a bowl. (It will go about halfway down the can and should amount to 2/3 - 3/4 cup. Avoid scooping the liquid from the can.) Measure 1 1/2 tablespoons and set aside. Place remaining cream in the fridge. (Save coconut liquid separately to use in smoothies, etc.)

In a large bowl stir together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined.

In another bowl whisk the egg. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut cream, milk, vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the coconut oil. Immediately pour the wet into the dry and whisk gently until fully incorporated.

Pour into the pan and smooth out. Bake for 28-34 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes then place on a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 2 hours to fully firm.

While the cake cools, place the remaining coconut cream in a mixing bowl. Beat until fully creamed, about 30 seconds. Beat in the powdered sugar over low, working to high, until smooth. Beat in the extracts, adding more almond if desired. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Cube your cake. Use any glass you like or even a bowl to layer. Add some of the cream, then berries, then cake, and toasted almonds. Repeat until you reach the top!


Notes:

  • To make your own powdered sugar: Place 1 cup pure cane sugar in a high-powered blender (I've even had success with a NutriBullet!) with 1 tablespoon arrowroot or tapioca starch. Blend until very fine like typical powdered sugar.
  • I do not recommend flax-eggs as a replacement for eggs in this recipe.
  • Sub flours at your own risk.
  • I do not recommend doubling/tripling this recipe to make a larger cake. It may need small adjustments to create the same texture.
Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two | edibleperspective.com

Be sure and check out all of the other amazing recipes that were created for Christina's shower! 

Fizzy Grapefruit Margaritas // Well Plated
Earl Grey Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream // Country Cleaver
Mini Bourbon and Bacon Tater Tot Casseroles // Climbing Grier Mountain
Maple-Chia Overnight Oatmeal // Feed Me Phoebe
Lemon Cake for Two // Keep It Sweet Desserts
Mini Raspberry Rhubarb Pavlovas // The Baker Chick
Peanut Butter Bourbon Blondies // The Frosted Vegan
Mixed Berry Mascarpone Scones // Bluebonnet Baker
Greek Yogurt Funfetti Cupcakes for Two // The Housewife in Training Files
Bourbon Barbeque Sliders with Bleu Cheese // Saucy Pear
Steak Fajita Tacos for Two // The Sweetphi Blog
Mango Madeleines // Stetted
Citrus Salad with Mint, Honey, and Lime // Rachel Cooks
Parfaits for Two // Order in the Kitchen
Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Whipped Cream // Joyful Healthy Eats

Wishing Christina + her husband all the best as they expand to a family of three!

Ashley