I’m from the Midwest, you know, land of “hot dish” (casserole), and cookie bars. Yet, somehow I never had carmelitas until my sister-in-law made them when visiting over a year ago. I have only had them that one time, yet they stuck in my brain. This very comforting combination of caramel, chocolate, and almost and oatmeal cookie crust. I attempted one other time to make them vegan and failed miserably. I didn’t try again until recently, after I had found date caramel . This version of carmelitas are vegan, and much lower sugar than your average bar. They are still sweet, very sweet. In fact they are perfect for breakfast dessert with a cup of coffee. mmm, or mid-afternoon snack with a cup of coffee, Be right back…
Vegan Date Caramel Carmelitas
For the Oat Base and Crumble
- 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted (I used Earth Balance)
- 1/2 cup packed coconut sugar (or brown sugar if that’s what you have)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the Date Caramel
- 8 oz pitted medjool dates (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup water that the dates were soaking in
- 1 TBL bourbon (or more date water)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (vegan if that’s your jam)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8-inch pan and set aside.
- Cover dates with boiling water in a heat proof bowl or measuring cup and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Combine the melted “butter”, coconut sugar, and vanilla whisking until smooth.
- Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and stir until combined.
- Add roughly half of the mixture to the prepared pan and smooth it to form an even layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes make the date caramel.
- 7.Combine the soaked dates, coconut milk, soaking water, vanilla, and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. This will take a few minutes and you will have to stop and scrape the sides a few times.
- After the oat base has cooked for 10 minutes remove it from the oven and dollop the date caramel over the base. Smooth with a spoon or spatula to form one even layer. This is delicate work.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the date caramel in an even layer.
- Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-sugar mixture over the top.
- Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center appears to be set.
- Allow bars to cool for a few hours in the pan before slicing and serving.
- These are best stored in the refrigerator and are delightful cold or at room temperature.