Vegan Cookie Dough Bars with Chocolate Chips
For the sake of maintaining the integrity, believability, and the all-around legit-ness of the technically virtual but oh-so-actual real-life bond that you and I have between our screens, I do my best to minimize superlatives when writing about my recipes. Therefore, it is not without serious reflection and utter sincerity that I say…holy smokes, good gosh golly almighty, and bless your chocolate-loving heart! These no-bake Vegan Cookie Dough Bars with Chocolate Chips are THE BEST healthy dessert to come out of my kitchen, perhaps EVER.
I’m not sure how many times I can tell you something is “the best” before the phrase loses its oomph, but I am willing to risk one more on this dynamite dessert. Yes the recipe is vegan, but no matter what diet you do or no not follow, I can promise you will be jumping up and down with every bite of this sweet, chocolate-studded treat.
Vegan Cookie Dough Bars Recipe Highlights
- We are eating what tastes like a slab of straight-from-the-bowl, old-school, butter-and-sugar-laden peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough.
- This vegan cookie dough contains no refined sugar. It’s naturally sweetened with dates and a touch of maple syrup.
- No butter or oil. Instead, the rich taste and luscious texture of the vegan cookie dough bars comes from heart-healthy peanut butter (or almond butter if you prefer). I used the same trick in these Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies.
- 100% whole grains. I used rolled oats, meaning that the bars are also gluten free for those with dietary concerns. That’s right, no flour.
- LOTS OF DARK CHOCOLATE. In the bars, on the bars. Life is good.
These Vegan Cookie Dough Bars have become a fixture in our home. They fulfill my mid-afternoon craving for something sweet, without sending me into a sugar coma. Ben takes them to the office to eat with his lunch. I’ve even introduced them to multiple friends, none of whom could believe they don’t contain a spec of butter, refined sugar, or flour.
I’ve made these Vegan Cookie Dough Bars both with and without the extra layer of chocolate on top.
Without the chocolate, they remind me a little of Larabars and other similar fruit-and-nut based energy bars, minus the weird chewiness. They are certainly sweet enough to pass for dessert but are not SO sweet that you’d be reprimanded for eating one with your morning coffee or for a post-workout snack.
WITH the chocolate, however, boy oh boy. That is where you’ll find me, my superlatives, and depending upon how long you wait, nothing but an empty container and a telltale chocolate smear on face.
These no-bake Vegan Cookie Dough Bars will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator and freeze beautifully, so in the unlikely event you don’t eat them all right away, they’ll be happy to wait for you.
Other Healthy Chocolate Treats
- Chickpea Cookie Dough
- No Bake Cookie Dough Protein Balls
- Giant Healthy Peanut Butter Cookie
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
Vegan Cookie Dough Bars with Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter
For the cookie dough filling:
- 1/2 cup pitted medjool dates
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats - certified gluten free if needed
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter - almond butter, or cashew butter (I used the natural, drippy kind that is stored in the refrigerator)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips - about 2 ounces; dairy free if needed
FOR THE CHOCOLATE TOPPING (optional):
- 2/3 cup chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips - about 4 ounces; dairy free if needed
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- If your dates are at all dry, place them in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit 5 minutes, then drain. Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
- Add the oats and pulse until the oats are broken down and the mixture forms a sticky ball that sticks to the sides of the bowl. Add the almond flour, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and pulse until the mixture forms a smooth paste, stopping to scrape the bowl and break up the ingredients as needed. If the mixture seems very dry (this may happen depending upon the moisture content in your dates and nut butter), add water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough just sticks together when you press it with your fingers. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the mini chocolate chips.
- Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving some of the paper hanging out on two sides like handles. Scoop the dough into the pan and press it into an even layer, pressing it all the way into the corners. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, until set.
- For the chocolate topping: In a microwave-safe bowl or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate. If microwaving, check and stir it every 15 seconds to prevent burning. When the chocolate is almost but not yet completely melted, remove from heat and stir in the coconut oil until completely melted and smooth. Spread the melted chocolate over the cooled bars, then return them to the freezer for 10 to 20 additional minutes to set completely. Remove from the pan using the parchment overhang, slice, and enjoy.
- Store leftover bars in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.
- I haven’t tried subbing additional oats for the almond flour, but I think this could work.
- Additions: If you like, you can add a tablespoon or two of additional healthy mix-ins, such as flaxseed meal, hemp seeds, or chia seeds. This may alter the consistency of the bars, so if they seem to dry, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until the mixture holds together.
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