These Salted Caramel Cookie Bars are a naturally sweetened, easy-to-make Paleo and Vegan treat. They have a sunflower seed and coconut base and a filling made with California Dates and tahini. These caramel bars are nut free, dairy free, gluten free and only sweetened with dates.
I’ve always had a soft spot for caramel. In fact, I fondly remember stealing all the chocolate covered caramels from a box of chocolates when I was a kid.
There’s something about that buttery, gooey texture that I find irresistible!
Now? Well, my love for caramel hasn’t changed, but my preference for ingredients has. These days, I prefer making my own. And my favorite way to make Paleo caramel is from California Dates!
Not only are dates Paleo, Vegan and Whole30 approved, but they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Dates are a great source of fiber, naturally sweet and are perfect for baking. (Or just snacking – I could eat a giant handful by themselves.)
How to Eat Dates
Dates can be used a variety of ways. They can be eaten alone or used in sweet or savory recipes. Yes, savory recipes too! Here are a few ways you can use dates in recipes:
- Sweetener in Muffins
- Homemade Caramels
- Soups and sauces
- Salad toppings
- Homemade graham crackers
- As a yogurt bowl topping
- Blended in smoothies
The options are endless! Truly, any recipe that could use a bit of sweetener would pair well with California Dates.
Vegan Salted Caramel Cookie Bars
I used California Dates (Medjool variety) as the sole sweetener in these no-bake tahini bars. They are used in both the nut free crust and the vegan caramel.
These caramel date bars are:
- free of the top 8 allergens
- are no-bake
- don’t contain any added sugar
They are the perfect clean eating dessert! And, even better, you only need a few ingredients to make them.
Ingredients in Salted Caramel Cookie Bars
A few simple ingredients are needed to make this recipe. They include:
- California Dates (Medjool variety)
- sunflower seeds
- flaked coconut
- tahini (salted)
- vanilla extract
- coarse sea salt
- dark chocolate (optional)
- bee pollen (optional)
The crust is made from ground sunflower seeds, flaked coconut and dates. But really, any variety of nut or seed would work for the crust. For instance, you may swap out the sunflower seeds for almonds.
The 2 ingredient caramel consists of California Dates and tahini. I added a splash of vanilla, but you may omit that ingredient if you want.
Lastly, these are topped with dark chocolate, a pinch of flaked sea salt and bee pollen. The topping is optional, but adds a bit of decoration to an otherwise naked-looking filling.
How to Make Salted Caramel Cookie Bars
The first thing you need to do is prep the dates for the filling. Do this by removing their pits and then soaking them in hot water. While they soak, you can make the crust.
Removing the pits is simple! Rip open the dates using your hands, then grab the pit and set aside. Date pits are extremely tough, so be sure to remove all of them, as they won’t blend in a food processor.
To soak the dates, put them in a bowl and then fill the bowl with hot water so that the dates are fully submerged. Let them soak for at least 10 minutes. (Note: you do not need to soak the dates for the crust, only the filling.)
Make the Crust
While the dates are soaking, make the crust. Add all crust ingredients to your food processor and blend. (Make sure to remove the pits from the dates!) Stop every now and then to scrape the sides. Blend until the mixture is a thick, sticky dough. You should be able to mold it into a ball.
Grab an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line it with foil. Remove the crust from the food processor and firmly press it into the pan. Set aside.
Make the Filling
Now for the filling! Drain the soaked dates, then place them in your food processor. Blend, stopping every so often to scrape the sides, until the mixture is fairly smooth (see photo).
Next, add the remaining filling ingredients. Blend, stopping every so often to scrape the sides, until the mixture has a thick, smooth texture and is fairly uniform in color.
Remove the filling from the food processor and spread over the crust.
Lastly, place the bars in the freezer to set. For best results, I recommend freezing the bars overnight. This will make cutting them much easier.
After cutting the bars, you may add your choice of toppings. Since these are salted caramel bars, I recommend adding a pinch of flaked salt on top.
This particular batch was drizzled with a little dark chocolate and sprinkled with flaked sea salt and bee pollen. A bit of decoration really makes these bars pop!
How to Store Salted Caramel Cookie Bars
These Vegan caramel bars need to be stored in the fridge or freezer. The filling does not become rock hard in the freezer, but firms up nicely. I actually prefer them from the freezer than the fridge.
Thank you California Dates for sponsoring this post! It means so much to me to work with brands that I love and who support Bake It Paleo.Print
These Paleo and Vegan Salted Caramel Cookie bars are a delicious, easy to make dessert. They have a sunflower seed and coconut crust, and a filling made from California Dates and tahini.
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 2 California Dates (Medjool variety)
- 12 California dates (Medjool variety, soaked in hot water)
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- flaked sea salt
- bee pollen
- Remove pits from dates.
- Soak dates for the filling. Do this by placing the dates in a medium-sized bowl, then pouring hot water over the dates until they are fully submerged. Let them soak for 10 minutes.
- Make the crust. Combine sunflower seeds, coconut and dates (the crust dates do not need to be soaked) in a food processor. Blend, stopping every so often to scrape the sides. Keep blending until mixture is a thick, sticky dough.
- Line an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with foil. Remove the crust from the food processor and firmly press into the lined pan. Set aside.
- Make the filling. Drain water from soaked dates. Place them in the food processor and blend until mixture is fairly smooth. (You will have to stop frequently to scrape the sides.) Add remaining filling ingredients and blend until mixture is smooth.
- Using a spatula, spread filling over crust.
- Freeze overnight.
- Remove bars from freezer and cut into 16 square pieces.
- For the topping: Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a sauce pan, over low heat. Cool slightly, then drizzle over cut bars. Add a pinch of flaked sea salt and bee pollen.
- Store bars in fridge or freezer.
Keywords: date bars, tahini date caramel, Paleo, Vegan, nut free, egg free, dessert, no bake, salted caramel