Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks

A hearty bowl of warm oatmeal that’s infused with cinnamon is such a comforting breakfast, but I never budget the time for making hot cereal on busy weekday mornings. So I made cinnamon oatmeal bars instead.

A half dozen ladies and I are throwing a virtual baby shower today for Krissy, who’s expecting her first baby, and I figured it wouldn’t be too cool to show up to a party, virtual or not, with a bowl of cold soggy oatmeal in hand. I thought these would be a bigger hit with the crowd.

Aside from being being portable, they’re no-bake so there’s no chance of burning my mouth on one like I have a tendency to do with oatmeal. I’m always so anxious to dig in that I usually burn my mouth on those scalding little grains.

I made these bars with a healthy dose of peanut butter, and although it’s possible to swirl peanut butter into hot oatmeal, I find it gets a bit lost. Although it’s not the most prominent flavor in these bars either, the cinnamon is; there’s a peanut butter undertone in just the right amount so that it doesn’t overpower the cinnamon or the dates, and instead complements them.

There’s chocolate involved in two ways, too. It just wouldn’t be a party without it.

After pressing the no-bake dough into the pan, I made a quick and easy chocolate ganache in the microwave and poured the silky brown elixir over the dough.

Then I roughly chopped a 72% percent dark chocolate bar, a Pound Plus from Trader Joe’s, and sprinkled that over the ganache before it set up, trapping the irregular chunks in it’s sleek grip.

Truthfully, I had no intention of adding chopped chocolate, but it’s hard to photograph a really sleek chocolate surface and after looking at that smooth ganache, I decided I didn’t want to struggle with chocolate glare since this was supposed to be a five-minute easy-breezy dessert. The chopped chunks turned out to be a happy accident because those dark little pebbles added both texture and an intensity of flavor that I loved.

To make these bars, simply combine oats, medjool dates, peanut butter, agave or any of the alternate sweeteners suggested, cinnamon, and vanilla in a food processor or high speed blender and process it until it combines and clumps together. I recommend a food processor over a Vita-Mix or high speed blender for clean up ease, but use what you have.

Some notes about the dough:

This dough needs to be able to hold it’s shape when pinched between your fingers or use an imaginary small marble test. If you can easily form one, your dough is on the right track. For example, look into the canister of the food  processor where 6 o’clock would be. That big, shiny, smooth surface is a good sign because it’s indicative of dough that can easily be pushed into a pan and then sliced into bars with ease without risk of them crumbling or falling apart.

If your theoretical marble crumbles and won’t stick together, the dough is too dry. Either add a few more dates, another dollop of peanut butter, or an additional squirt of agave and process again.

Conversely, if your marble is loose and very squishy or limp, seemingly greasy or too soft to create a well-formed little nugget, the dough has too much moisture in it, likely from the peanut butter. Add another small handful of oats, which will dry out the dough, and process again. I find this issue to occur less than the first issue, but your mileage may vary.

This is not an exact science, and you may need to play with your ratios by a quarter cup of something here or there, but the values suggested in the recipe will set you on the right track, likely with only minor tweaking necessary.

The resulting bars are chewy and have tons of texture. For a texture junkie like me, they’re like hitting the texture lottery. The ground medjools and oats provided one layer of texture. The crunchy peanut butter, which I don’t usually buy but had some on hand, but used in the bars, added another level of texture. And the chopped chocolate bits on top added a third layer.

Make sure your dental floss is handy after all that texture.

The bars are sweetened, but not overly so. They really are a pretty ‘natural’ bar with no refined sugar used. Agave or honey are my first choices for sweeteners because they do a great job of both sweetening and binding the dough, but brown rice syrup, corn syrup, or maple syrup will work. Maple, however, will both alter and mask some flavors much more so than the other syrups, and in this recipe, I preferred the cleaner sweetness of agave because I want the cinnamon essence to be prominent and unmasked.

 I’m really glad I didn’t have to bring these to an actual party and could keep them all for myself. See how I am.

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Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

Makes one 8-by-8-inch pan, about 9 generously-sized bars

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)

about 15 medium soft Medjool dates, soft pitted

3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

1/4 cup agave nectar (brown rice syrup, honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup may be substituted)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon+ cinnamon

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons cream or milk (coconut or almond milk may be used)

3 to 4 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (whole chocolate chips or chopped chocolate chips may be substituted)

Directions:

Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil and optionally spray with cooking spray; set aside. To the canister of a food processor or Vita-Mix (I used a food processor) add oats, dates (I used Trader Joe’s), peanut butter (I used crunchy), agave, vanilla, cinnamon to taste, and process until dough comes together. Dough will be dense and when squeezed between fingers, it should hold it’s shape, not fall apart, nor be crumbly. If dough is crumbly or you cannot easily form a marble-sized ball with it, it’s too dry and needs more liquid or a binding ingredient such as more agave, more peanut butter, or more dates in order for it to come together. If mixture seems too wet, is sloppy and loose, add more oats. This is not an exact science and you may need to play with the ratios of wet and dry ingredients, but the goal is a dough that is dense, thick, holds it shape, can be packed into a pan, and when sliced, will hold it’s shape in bar form. Press mixture into prepared pan, packing it down, pushing it into the corners, and smooth it with a spatula; set pan aside.

For the chocolate topping: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften them; set aside. In a small microwave-safe bowl, bring the cream or milk to a boil and it will happen quickly, in about 20 to 30 seconds. Pour cream over chocolate and let stand for about 3 minutes. Stir or whisk to combine and if chocolate is not smoothing out easily or combining, reheat mixture for 15 seconds or until it can be stirred smooth. Pour chocolate over the bars in an even layer, smoothing it with an offset knife or spatula.

Evenly sprinkle and distribute the chopped chocolate chunks (I used Trader Joe’s 72% Pound Plus bar) over the ganache before it begins to set up. Place pan in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate sets up a bit, before slicing and serving. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or can be frozen for up to 3 months. I prefer to store them in the refrigerator.

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Related Recipes:

Microwave Chocolate Peanut Butter and Oat Snack Bars (No-Bake, Vegan, GF) – Makes just 3 bars in 5 minutes

No-Bake Maple Flaxseed Cookies (vegan, GF) – Made with just 3 ingredients, including flax seeds, which gives these great depth of flavor, nutty and almost peanut buttery. They can be eaten as cookies, made into bars, wrapped as snacks, or shaped into pancakes and drizzled with syrup and raisins

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) – Tis the season for pumpkin along with peanut butter, oats, and chocolate

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars (No-Bake, Vegan, GF)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coconut Oil Protein Bars (No-Bake, Vegan, GF)

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bars (vegan, GF) – Fast and easy and people write to me frequently saying these were a hit for them

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (no-bake, vegan, GF) – These little bites are so easy to make and you don’t even have to dirty a food processor

Do you make oatmeal frequently or use oats in your baking?

I enjoy oatmeal but don’t make it much because we’re usually running late most mornings and there’s no time for it.

However, I love baking, or no-baking, with oats. They are so versatile, they add delicious chewiness and texture to anything they’re added to, they’re healthier than using all-purpose flour, and I just love their flavor. And when copious amounts of cinnamon and chocolate are involved, even better. I have an arsenal of my favorite Oats and Oatmeal Recipes here

I also have an entire post dedicated to little Balls and Bites Recipes, mostly made from oats, or nuts, with dates

Best of luck with your new baby, Krissy! Check out these other ladies’ blogs who are also taking part in the virtual baby shower for Krissy:

Audra of The Baker Chick | Mini Salted Caramel Brownie Pies
Cassie of Bake Your Day | Red Bell Pepper & Ranch Cheese Dip
Erin of Big Fat Baker | Blueberry Punch
Jacqueline of The Dusty Baker | Kid-friendly Gluten-and-Dairy-Free Chicken Fingers
Lauren of Keep It Sweet | Baby Blue Cake Pops From Scratch
Nicole of Sweet Peony Blog | Roasted Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Thanks to everyone who entered the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + KitchenAid Stand Mixer + $200 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card Giveaway

   

107 Responses to “Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks”

  1. #
    51
    Alexandra — January 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I’ve realized lately how delicious healthy, no-bake bars can be, especially when combined with dark chocolate, so I need to take 5 minutes and make this recipe ASAP. I’m not that big on oatmeal (and I always burn myself with it too – never fails), but I love adding oats to things I bake – or don’t bake!
    P.S. Every time I come over to your site I see a billion things I want to try. :) Love it!

    Reply

  2. #
    52
    Sarah — February 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    These look amazing I am drooling, but one question: Could I make these with almond butter, or would they not set up right since almond butter is runnier?

    Reply

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks replied: — February 16th, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      You could try them with AB. I would use far less to begin with since it’s thinner. And if you run into issues either throw in some PB, add more dates, or if you have a handful of nuts or even coconut flakes, that will also bind them. However…in order to get the FLAVOR I got, I highly rec PB unless you have reason specifically to avoid it.

      Reply

  3. #
    53
    Paula — May 24, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I’m so glad I finally got around to making these! They come together quickly and I love the cinnamon in the bars (I used 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon) with the chocolate on top. Lots of texture to sink your teeth into with the oats and chopped chocolate. They were the perfect outdoor concert snack tonight!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — May 24th, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      You were up late leaving this comment! Hope the concert was a blast and sounds like the treats hit the spot. Thanks for coming back to LMK what you did and that you made them! These bars are quite cinnamon-ey, even for a fiend like me :) They really remind me of cinnamon oatmeal, but in a bar form! And tons of texture, you are right! Without the all the chocolate, you could even probably call them healthy :)

      Reply

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    Lara Richardson — July 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Top recipe so far! Made these last weekend and they are all gone! Tried them once before but used store bought peanut butter and they were not as good. This time I used a natural, organic pb and I was short 1/2 cup of oats so I used oat bran as a substitute. Seriously good recipe. I can’t believe I am excited about baking!! Thanks so much.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 10th, 2013 at 11:45 pm

      Thanks for trying these a couple times and for the detailed report! Swapping things out, like oat bran for some of the oats, using a different kind of PB, that’s always great when you hit upon that perfect combo that makes a recipe just pop!

      Reply

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    55
    Amanda — September 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    These look beautiful! I want to make them for my class, but a couple students have nut allergies. I love the idea of replacing peanut butter with pumpkin, but I think I’d need to add some sort of oil and/or more dry ingredients to this. Any input on that would be appreciated! Thanks

    Reply

  6. #
    56
    Sarah — May 13, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Wow! These are so good. I processed them and after pressing them into the pan, decided they were too wet. I didn’t feel like scooping them out to put back in the food processor so I ended up baking them for 12 minutes or so to dry them out a bit. I will try again when we run out and I’ll know how the dough should feel so hopefully will be able to do them no-bake, but man are these good (and healthy and filling too). Thank you for this great recipe.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — May 13th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Good call on baking them a little bit to dry them out for 12 mins. Perfect and I’ve done that too :) Sometimes just 1/4 cup extra dry ingredients can do the trick with no-bake stuff like this and/or use a couple less dates. Either way, sounds like you handled things just fine and glad you like them!

      Reply

  7. #
    57
    Summera Shafqat — June 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Hi can you tell me oats are hard how can grains in food processer can we soak it then put it processor with date(oatmeal date & chocolate chips bar)

    Reply

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