These no-bake German chocolate cookie bars are a great treat, sweetened without the need of refined sugar.
German chocolate cake was my favorite when I was a kid. Well, actually, it wasn’t the cake– it was the frosting. These bars capture that flavor without the sugar crash afterwards.
Alex travels a lot for work, and a while back, I started once in a while making him cookies or muffins to take along with him for the flights. This has turned in to an obligatory thing. He now expects it. And, I feel better knowing he is sitting at the airport Starbucks enjoying a treat I’ve made with wholesome ingredient alongside his cappuccino.
The date bars from Ohsheglows started the no-bake bar trend in this house. They are Alex’s favorite, so I make them often. We always spend his birthday in Thailand, so I never get to bake him a cake. Last year, I made those date bars, since they are dense and I knew they wouldn’t fall apart while we were traveling. I added a layer of chocolate under the date layer, and sprinkled the top with coconut to make them a bit extra special and birthday-treat worthy. And they were good. Like, german chocolate cake good. These bars are a spin off of that little experiment.
The one bad thing about those bars is that since they are made with coconut oil, the crust gets a bit crumbly when it’s at room temperature. Maybe not room temperature in Oregon, but coconut oil is always liquid at Malaysia-room-temperature. I keep the bars in the freezer at home, but they don’t make the best airport snack (somehow Alex still manages).
On my first attempt at these bars last week, I used coconut oil. I decided this time to try something a bit different to help bind the crust and help keep them together. I’ve always wanted to try using cocoa butter, but since that’s not an ingredient available in Kuala Lumpur, I used an 85% chocolate bar, melted, as the oil ingredient. Chocolate is always a good choice, no? And besides, chocolate is a health food.
I stil like to enjoy these out of the freezer. At room temperature, these hold together nicely, and are a bit of a soft chewy cookie bar. Either way, they are winners in my book!
The question is . . . now that Alex has two batches of these in the freezer, what will I make for his birthday coming up in a few weeks?
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 cup dates, pitted
- 2½ ounces 85% dark chocolate
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups dates, pitted
- ½ cup coconut
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup pecans, toasted
- 1 ounce 85% dark chocolate
- Measure out the dates in a bowl, and pour hot water on top. Let soak for about a minute, then drain.
- Add the pecans and oatmeal to a food processor. Process until the pecans and oatmeal are broken up into a course meal.
- Add 1 cup of the dates, and pulse in. Process until the dates form a dough with the pecans and oatmeal.
- Sprinkle the sea salt over the dough, and pour in the melted chocolate. Pulse to combine.
- Press the dough into an 8x8 bake pan lined with parchment or baking paper. Put in the freezer to harder while making the topping.
- Add the remaining 2 cups of soaked dates to the food processor. Process until the dates are smooth and resemble caramel, approximately 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the coconut, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse to combine well.
- Spread the date and coconut mixture over the crust in an even layer.
- Top with toasted pecans and a drizzle of melted chocolate.
Even if you don't like really dark chocolate, I suggest you use the darkest you can find. The dates are very sweet, so the chocolate does not have a very dark taste.
The recipe uses 1 large 100 gram chocolate bar (3½ ounces). Use approximately ⅔ of a large bar for the crust, and the other ⅓ for the chocolate drizzle on top.