Homemade California 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.
California 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.
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. Kid-friendly or not, these prune 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.
That’s really the goal for all of my recipes. I want food that we all feel good about eating; food I feel good serving my babe and food that I feel good about serving others. I’m not the food police, and I know that Van will end up eating more processed/sugary foods then I would prefer, but right now- during this special time of him not caring as much, my goal is to load up on the nutrients and expand his palate preference for less-sweet, healthier food.
And that is where California Prunes come in! 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! California 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.
At under 100 calories per serving, California 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.
For the best tasting bars, make sure to use California Prunes. I’ve done tastes tests with prunes grown elsewhere, and the taste of California Prunes cannot be matched. They are fresh, sweet and maintain their moisture when dried.
I was lucky enough to head back to Northern California in early September to see the California Prune harvest, to meet with farmers and get tips from world-renowned chefs on how to use prunes in both sweet and savory applications.
I’m pretty sure I ate a few dozen prunes that weekend and have been actively trying to incorporate them into my diet ever since. I always knew prunes were fairly versatile in recipes but was blown away by some of the culinary applications that we were introduced to.
One of my favorite meals of the evening was dessert the last night, a prune clafoutis that tasted like a mix between bread pudding and sponge cake. It was so incredibly moist, rich and delicious that I knew I wanted to recreate some aspect of it when I got home.
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.
Tips for Perfect California Prune Bars
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.
Hope you love these vegan California Prune bars 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!
Be sure to check out California Prunes online at www.CaliforniaPrunes.org and on social media @CAprunes.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.
California Prune Filling:
- 8 ounces California Prunes
- 1 1/2 cups apple or white grape juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour*
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons vegan butter, softened
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1–2 tablespoons water
- Make the California Prune filling: Place the prunes, juice and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the prunes are very soft and there is little liquid left (about 2-3 tablespoons.) Let cool slightly.
- Place the prunes and remaining liquid in a food processor and puree until the mixture is thick and jammy. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly spray with cooking spray to grease. Set aside.
- Make the crust: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add in the oil, vanilla and water and beat again.
- Slowly stir in the flour mixture and beat until the 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 the prepared 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- 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.
*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.
Keywords: prune recipes, prune bars