We've been dairy-free for many months now (8ish? 9ish?) and I think it's finally become the norm for us. I actually don't crave cheesy things (much) like lasagna or queso anymore but I do miss some desserts. I have to really search for chocolate that is both dairy and nut-free and subbing coconut oil for butter doesn't always work, though I've had pretty good results with it. Here, in these bars, it works great, though. It might even add to the chewiness a little bit.
Jack has a peanut allergy and his allergist recently cleared us to give him tree nuts. We've been going through them one by one and he hasn't had any reactions yet. Yay! This was a way for us to give him walnuts AND to make a treat for us to enjoy. We're giving Will peanut butter this week for the first time. Cross your fingers that he's not allergic...
Chewy Whole Grain Chocolate, Date, and Walnut Bars
adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3 oz. chopped pitted dates
1 cup (4 oz.) chopped walnuts
4 oz. dark chocolate (chips or a bar cut into bite-size pieces)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 2 qt. baking dish (I used one like this, about 10x6.5 inches, anything up to 9x13 will work but baking times will vary.), then line with a piece of parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil or butter, brown sugar, salt and baking together on medium speed until well combined and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
3. Add in the flour and beat just to barely combine. Add in the dates, walnuts, and chocolate and mix.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth using wet fingertips.
5. Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes (this time will vary depending on pan size, begin checking around 22 minutes). Remove pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.