Add maple syrup, dates, and coconut oil and pulse until a "dough" forms that holds together when you squeeze it between your fingers. If it appears too dry, add more dates or water for moisture.
Add crust to the parchment-lined pan and use your hands to spread it into an even layer, pushing the crust up to the edges of the pan so it contains the filling well. To achieve a uniform layer, cover a flat-bottom object (such as a drinking glass) with parchment paper and press down firmly.
Bake for 12 minutes. Then remove from oven and set aside.
In the meantime, prepare date paste by adding dates to a food processor and blending until small bits remain or a ball forms. Then add water 1 Tbsp (15 ml) at a time until a spreadable caramel paste forms. Add a pinch of salt and blend once more.
Begin layering: To the crust, add date paste and then pecans, peanut butter, coconut butter, coconut flakes, and lastly chocolate chips.
Bake for 10-12 minutes more or until the edges are golden brown and the toppings are slightly toasted. Be careful not to burn the coconut flakes.
Remove from oven to cool for at least 20 minutes. Then carefully cut and serve warm. Otherwise, let cool until the chocolate and coconut butter are firm - 6 hours or overnight. To speed cooling time, you can also chill in the freezer or refrigerator. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.
*If avoiding oil, you can try subbing a 1/2 + 1/2 mixture of applesauce and water for the oil. Or you can use more dates and a little water to avoid the oil. But I haven't tested these methods and can’t guarantee the results. *In place of the date caramel, for even more decadent bars sub a batch of our Easy Vegan Caramel Sauce. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 24 bars calculated with the oil (I cut them into 9 bars for photos, but they’re quite rich and we would recommend smaller servings).