These Vegan Apricot, Date and Walnut Layer Bars are a gluten free and high protein winner! The bars have a delicious sweet sticky middle layer of dates and apricots, while the main part of the bars are made from walnuts, oats and chia seeds, giving a lovely crunch and crumble. These vegan date and apricot bars are perfect for snacking or an after lunch treat.
These Vegan Apricot, Date and Walnut Layer bars have 3 layers. The top and bottom mainly feature oats and walnuts, and in the middle are the apricots and dates. For the middle layer, I originally used just dates. Then one day, I realised I didn’t have enough dates in my cupboard, so I had to use half apricots. I love these moments, as although they don’t seem ideal at the time, they can lead you to a better recipe.
The image below shows the initial steps for making these Apricot, Date and Walnut Bars.
I much prefer the mix of dates and apricots in these vegan bars, as they have slightly different textures (the dates melt more and the apricots still have a little bit of wholeness), the colour from the apricots brightens up the bar, and it gives a slight tangy sweet flavour. Essentially, you could use any dried fruit you like here e.g. sultanas, raisins, prunes, pineapple…. Oooooh I’m giving myself ideas now!!!
For the oaty, 'walnuty' top and bottom layers of these date and apricot bars, you can choose what you use depending on what you like e.g.
- If you want to go nut-free, don’t include walnuts, and just add more oats instead, or even seeds.
- You can use a different nut, like pecans, instead of walnuts - whatever you like best!
- For the sugar, it works great with raw brown sugar or coconut palm sugar, giving it a more caramelised taste. This will make it (slightly) more healthy than refined caster sugar. However, any kind of sugar will work for this recipe.
- The flour I've chosen is buckwheat; a versatile gluten free flour. Most flours will work, including regular plain flour if you don't need to be gluten free (wholemeal plain flour gives a nice earthy taste!).
- Use gluten free oats or regular oats. Other flakes e.g. buckwheat flakes or quinoa flakes, will work just fine too.
The bars need to be layered. Top and bottom layers are crunchy, nutty and oaty. The middle layer is the apricots and dates in a delicious sticky paste. The image below shows how you make the layers.
The oaty, walnut layer is held together with oil and chia seeds. You can use a dairy-free butter or coconut oil instead if you want. The chia seeds are great for adding extra protein (so they are very filling) and really help with the crunch of the bars. We have a whole post on vegan protein and high protein recipes which you may love.
Linseed / flaxseed will work ok if you don’t have chia seeds, but it won’t quite have the same crunch and density. I experimented using chia seeds so it didn’t just rely on fat to hold it together. The chia seeds add crunch and extra protein. Chia seeds can act as a binder and egg replacement, as do linseed / flaxseed. We have some great information on vegan egg substitutes you can check out, as well as yummy vegan egg breakfast recipes.
What’s also great about these vegan date bars is that they can be frozen and just whipped out and put in your bag for a snack later in the day. They look very decadent all piled up in slices, so they make the perfect gift for any occasion, or for entertaining!
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Apricot, Date and Walnut Layer Bars
- 210 g dried dates, chopped (1 ¼ cups)
- 210 g dried apricots, chopped (1 cup)
- 8 tbsp water
- Rind of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 275 g Buckwheat flour (2 ¼ cups) (regular flour works fine if you don't need gluten free)
- 110 g walnuts, chopped (1 cup)
- 130 g porridge oats (1 ⅔ cups) (use gluten free if required)
- 85 g raw brown sugar / coconut palm sugar (⅓ cup)
- 60 g chia seeds (milled then mixed with 125ml / ½ cup water) (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
- 240 ml vegetable oil (1 cup)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Grease a brownie tin or baking tray with a little oil (you don’t need to line it with any baking parchment).
- Place the dates, apricots, water and lemon rind in a pan, and place on a medium heat. Heat for around 10 minutes, stirring continuously, or until the fruit has melted into a sort of paste (but with a few chunks of fruit). Once done, set aside.
- In a separate bowl mix together the flour, walnuts, sugar and oats. Then add the chia seeds with water and the oil. Mix well.
- Place half of the mixture in the baking tray and spread evenly as a first layer. Press it down with your hands so it is nice and compact.
- Take the date and apricot paste and place spread all of it across the first layer. It is much easier to take small teaspoons of the dates and apricots and dot them all over the first layer. Then gently start to spread them out until there is an almost even layer of the fruit paste.
- Then take the other half of the walnut and porridge mix and spread it across the fruit paste layer. Press it down with your hands again so it is nice and compact.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top has browned a little.
- Once baked, leave to cool completely. If you slice and take it out when warm it will crumble a lot.
- Once cool, cut into slices in the tin, then remove slices from the tin. A good palate knife / fish slice will be helpful for getting them out. Then enjoy!