In a food processor, pulse the dates to create a thick paste. Add the walnuts, vanilla and 1/4 cup of the coconut and pulse until incorporated and a thick paste forms again. Using a spatula, transfer the date mixture to a medium bowl.
Pour the remaining 1/4 cup coconut into a separate small, shallow bowl.
Using a spoon, scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the date mixture and, with clean hands, work into a small rectangular bar 2 to 2 1/2 inches by 1 inch (or roll into balls). Coat the date bar with the coconut in the bowl, delicately pressing the coconut onto the bar. Continue with the remaining date mixture and coconut.
Serve in mini paper cupcake liners. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
As an alternative topping, roll and press the bites in 1/4 cup cocoa powder or chopped pistachios instead of the coconut.