Vega Date Caramel Carmelita Bars

Vegan Date Caramel Carmelitas
Vegan Date Caramel Carmelitas

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…

 Ingredients

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)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8-inch pan and set aside.
  2. Cover dates with boiling water in a heat proof bowl or measuring cup and set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Combine the melted “butter”, coconut sugar, and vanilla whisking until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and stir until combined.
  5. Add roughly half of the mixture to the prepared pan and smooth it to form an even layer.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes make the date caramel.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the date caramel in an even layer.
  10. Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-sugar mixture over the top.
  11. Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center appears to be set.
  12. Allow bars to cool for a few hours in the pan before slicing and serving.
  13. These are best stored in the refrigerator and are delightful cold or at room temperature.
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