vegan shortbread slice

date-caramel and carob shortbread squares (V, GF)

4th March 2022

These date-caramel shortbread squares are from Aran Goyoaga new book ‘Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE.’

‘Here, pecan shortbread is topped with date caramel and a thin layer of chocolate, nuts and seeds.  The date caramel is more of a paste than a traditional caramel, but it smells and taste just like the classic, with the benefit of being naturally sweet.’ – Aran Goyoaga 

The changes which were made to the original recipe:

  • Toasting the pecan nuts in the crust
  • Swapping the chocolate for a carob glaze
  • Mixing the toasted nuts and seeds with maple syrup over heat to make them extra sweet and crunchy on top.

date-caramel and carob shortbread squares

(If you don’t have carob pieces, you could use this carob glaze.)

makes 18 squares

preparation 20 mins

baking 25 mins

cooling and setting time 3 hours

date-nut crust

⅔ cup/100g pecans

115g (about 7) plump pitted Medjool dates 

¾ cup/105g superfine brown rice flour

¼ cup/30g tapioca starch

¼ tsp fine rock salt

6 Tbsp/85g cold vegan butter or coconut oil, cut into ½-inch pieces

date caramel

⅓ cup/90g canned full-fat coconut milk

⅓ cup/90g melted virgin coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

⅛ tsp fine rock salt

240g (about 13) plump pitted Medjool dates 

carob/chocolate glaze

150g finely chopped unsweetened carob or chocolate pieces (70%)

1 tsp coconut oil

nut topping

½ cup + 2 Tbsp/60g toasted pecans, pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp raw sesame seeds

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp dried rose petals (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Place the pecans in one pan, and the topping mix of pecans and pistachios in another pan, and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, grease the inside of an 8-inch square pan with coconut oil and line with baking paper, letting some hang over thes sides. Set aside. 

2. To make the date-nut crust, combine the pecans, dates, brown rice flour, nuts, tapioca starch, and salt in a food processor and pulse ten times until the dates and nuts are pulverized. Add the butter and pulse 5 times, until the dough becomes a dry crumble, and sticks together when pressed. If it feels dry, add a tsp of ice cold water.

3. Firmly press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, making sure it is evenly spread. *Use an extra square piece of baking paper to place over the top, run a flat bottomed cup over to even out. Use the edges of the baking paper, to fold over and run your finger along to create level sides and corners.

4. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden. Remove, and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the layers.

5. To make the date caramel, in a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and dates. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

6. Let the dates steep in the coconut milk for 10 minutes, then purree in a food processor. Be patient- it will take 3 – 5 minutes to puree to a fine and creamy texture. Scrape the date caramel onto the cooled crust and spread evenly. See above*.

7. To make the carob glaze, in a medium heatproof bowl, add the carob/chocolate pieces and coconut oil. Fill a small saucepan with one-quarter full with water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl on top and stir until melted. Pour over the date caramel and spread evenly.

8. To make the nut topping, oven medium heat, place the toasted nuts and sesame seeds in a small pan, add the maple syrup and stir until all are coated and maple syrup is absorbed, 1 – 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

9. Sprinkle the nuts and seeds, rose petals over the top of the carob. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until the carob and caramel hardens. This is important, otherwise it will be difficult to cut.

10. Lift the shortbread from the pan using the baking paper, and cut it lengthwise into 4 equal pieces, then cut each piece into quarters. See below for cutting tips. Once cut, store them in the refrigerator.


  • Leftover coconut milk can be measured in seperate 90g bags and frozen for future use!

tips for cutting 

  • Make sure the shortbread have been refrigerated for at least 2 hours and the carob and caramel has fully hardened. Otherwise, the middle will collaspe when cutting.
  • Use a ruler for the most precise results, measure the squares with a ruler and use the tip of a knife to make small marks where you’ll slice. 
  • A chef’s knife is the best tool for slicing. Before you cut, dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a dry kitchen towel, or coat the blade with cooking spray and wipe it clean with a paper towel, before making each cut. Repeat this process between slices.
  • When it’s time to cut, press the blade of the knife down firmly, and then drag it back in a single motion. 

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