These bars are lighter than traditional fruit and nut bars, and make a great traveling or backpacking snack—or a dessert cake when a bit of frosting is added. Refined sugar is replaced by dates, which have a brown sugar flavor that complements the persimmon and spices.
Clockwise from top: Creamy Cashew Frosting, Lemon-Tofu Frosting, no frosting, and Persimmon-Date Frosting (see recipes below).
3 medjool dates, pitted and quartered, soaked in ¼ cup water for 30 minutes
1 cup rolled oats
1¼ cups oat flour (or 1¼ cups rolled oats ground into flour in a high-speed blender)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground clove
1 medium-large, very ripe hachiya persimmon, peeled and diced (or 1 ripe banana)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, or use a silicone baking pan.
2. Combine the dry ingredients—oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove—in a bowl.
3. In a blender, blend the dates (with their soak water), persimmon (or banana), vanilla, and non-dairy milk until smooth. Pour wet mixture into bowel of dry ingredients and mix by hand until fully combined; fold in raisins and nuts.
4. Scrape batter into your pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes on the center rack. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, until the bars are browned on top and a toothpick or knife comes out clean. (The foil allows the bars to stay moist without over-browning the top.)
5. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Cut into any size you like. I usually cut mine into 15 bars about 1½” by 2½”.
Notes: Hachiya persimmons are the larger, acorn-shaped persimmons (as opposed to the Fuyus, which are flatter and tomato-looking, and are most commonly eaten firm like an apple). / These bars are only slightly sweetened, so feel free to add another date or two if you like a sweeter bar. / If you are not partial to raisins or walnuts, feel free to leave either out; the bars will still taste great. / Eat plain or with one of the optional frostings below. / When persimmons are out of season, substitute with 1 sliced, ripe banana.
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Makes: 15 bars (1½ x 2½ inch)
To serve these bars as a dessert cake, add one of the following three simple frostings. (The Persimmon-Date Frosting is lowest in fat, and is more like a fruit spread.) Frost the bars close to the time you will be serving them.
Creamy Cashew Frosting
3 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
½ cup raw, unsalted cashews
½ cup water
Place all ingredients into your blender and let sit for 15 minutes. Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy (add tiny amounts of water as needed). If you would like a lemon flavor, replace ¼ cup water with ¼ cup lemon juice (Meyer lemons, a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange, have a great flavor).
2-3 dates, pitted and quartered, and soaked in water for 15 minutes
1 medium-large, very ripe hachiya persimmon, peeled and diced
Water as needed to thin (you can use the soaking water if you like)
After the dates have soaked, remove them from the water and place them into a blender along with the persimmon. Blend until mixture is fairly smooth, adding water as needed until the desired consistency is reached.