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Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
Homemade Prune Bars! If you like fig newtons, then you will LOVE this version. A lightly sweetened prune dessert recipe, vegan and perfect for kids.
Homemade Prune bars! I’m always on the hunt for healthy-ish treats that I can make for Vander. Now that he’s in school and can see what all the other kids get for snack time, I’ve got to up my game to keep him interested and satisfied in what I pack.
If you are looking for a fun prune dessert recipe, these bars are it.
Recently, his class started serving fig newtons for after nap and while I don’t have a big problem with those, I knew I could make something more wholesome and nutrient-dense. These prune newton bars were a huge hit with everyone I shared them with. I brought leftovers to a playdate, and between the moms and the kids– the platter was picked clean.
What you’ll need for the prune filling:
What you’ll need for the crust:
Start by making the prune filling. Place the prunes, juice and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Let prune mixture simmer for 25-30 minutes, until prunes are very soft.
Once cool, place the prunes into a food processor and puree until thick and jammy.
Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy.
Add in the oil, vanilla and water and beat again. Now add in the dry ingredients and mix until flour is just incorporated.
Reserve ~3/4 cup of the dough, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge until ready to use.
Take the other remaining dough and press it into a lined 8×8″ pan in an even layer. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Remove the crust from the oven and spread the prune mixture over the crust. For the remaining crust, it’s up to you! You can dollop the remaining dough onto the prune coating or, you can roll the remaining dough into a square, then place onto the prune mixture.
If you want to roll the dough, I place the dough between parchment paper and trim the edges, moving dough as needed to make a square. It doesn’t need to be perfect, as shown in these photos.
Place the bars back into the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, another 25 minutes. Let the prune bars cool in the pan, then remove and place in on a wire cooling rack or the fridge to cool completely, about 1 hour.
Cut into squares and serve! Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.
These bars may seem fairly involved, but I promise that they are easier to make than they seem. I’ve made ~5 batches in the past month and each time it gets easier and easier.
For the top crust, it’s really up to you on how you want to present it. I’ve dolloped the crust on top so that more of the prune mixture shows through and I’ve also rolled out the dough to an 8-inch square to gently press on top, like shown here. That will take a little more effort, but it’s not difficult.
The easiest way is to ball the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then gently roll out to a square. If the dough becomes lopsided, use a knife to make a clean edge, then add the leftover dough back to another side and roll to edge out the seam.
These don’t have to be perfect! It’s OK if the dough isn’t a perfect square, like shown in these photos.
The secret is stewing the prunes first before baking. This adds in additional moisture and reduces the need for extra liquid and fat; as prunes have the same rich, smooth mouthfeel as butter and oil.
For these bars, I stewed prunes in white grape juice, though apple juice or other clear 100% juice would also work. This makes the prunes extra plump and syrupy, the perfect texture for gently blending into a paste to spread on the brown sugar crust.
I’ve talked about our love of prunes before, but they are such an unsung hero in the nutrition and culinary world, I think they deserve more love.
Prunes are pretty incredible. A single serving, just 4-5 prunes, can help support good gut health! As an added bonus, prunes provide dietary fiber, sorbitol and polyphenols. The naturally occurring sorbitol is also what makes digestion a tad bit easier with prunes.
Sorbitol has a mild laxative effect, which combined with the prebiotic-rich fiber is a winning combination for a healthy gut. That’s a fancy way of saying if your kiddos are having a hard time going to the bathroom– these bars may help.
At under 100 calories per serving, prunes contain no added sugar, no cholesterol, no sodium and no fat. Pretty perfect, right? When I’m not enjoying them in these prune bars, I like to eat prunes right out of the bag, or lightly poached in orange juice to spoon over yogurt.
Yup. Depending on what package you grab in the grocery store, they may be called dried plums or prunes. As long as they don’t have any added sugar, they are the exact same thing.
Hope you love these this prune dessert recipe as much as we do. If you try it, make sure to come back and rate it in the comments below. You can also tag your creations using the hashtag #delishknowledge on Instagram. Seeing you make my recipes makes my day!Print
Homemade Prune Bars! If you like fig newtons, then you will LOVE this healthy homemade version made with prunes! Lightly sweetened and vegan, perfect for kids.
*I used whole wheat pastry flour for these to make them more wholesome, but you can also use regular flour or a whole wheat white flour.