Denver

Vegan Cooking with Gillian: Almond Caramel Cookie Bars

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There have been many times where I’ve dreamt up a concept for a recipe and haven’t been able to perfect it. I have so many that I’m still in the process of working out. A few weeks ago I was thinking about blondies, then I was thinking about caramel, then I thought about making some sort of cheese cake cookie sandwich thing, but finally landed on some cross between a cookie/blondie sandwich filled with caramel. I used my mom’s blondie recipe and tweaked it to make it a little bit more cookie like. I tried this recipe twice and found out that it works best if you cook it for a little longer and in thinner batches. I accidentally made it a little thicker and it definitely ended up more cake-like than cookie-like. Anyways, I’m super excited that this recipe turned out. These have been a HUGE hit and I’ve made them three times since, just because they’re that good!

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What:

Cookie bars:

4 C all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 C non-dairy milk (I used coconut & almond on separate occasions and they worked great)

1 1/3 C light brown sugar

2/3 C granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

8 Tbs (1 stick) melted earth balance

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Additional:

2 C chocolate chunks

1 C walnuts, chopped

Caramel:

1 Cup Maple Syrup (Grade B is fine, but Grade A gives it a little extra)

1 1/3 Cup Almond Butter (unsalted or salted is fine)

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tsp Sea Salt

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How to:

Cookies:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease WELL two 9×12 pans, set aside.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, whisk together and set aside.  Mix milk, sugars and extracts in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Melt margarine, then stir it into the wet ingredients, too.  (Mix margarine in last to keep it from clumping up.)  Stir half of the dry into the wet mixture until incorporated, toss in the other half until just incorporated, don’t over-mix, then fold in chocolate chips & walnuts into the dough.

Spread the the dough evenly into the greased pans.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes and until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool COMPLETELY, I’ve even put mine in the fridge for a couple hours just to make sure they set.

Carmel:

While the cookies are baking, make your caramel. Put the ingredients in a pot, and let them cook until they are melted & incorporated and you’re done. It’s the EASIEST RECIPE EVER.

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Assembly:

Once the cookies are completely cool, transfer them out of the pans and onto a platter or flat surface. With one batch of cookies flat on the surface, spread a thick layer of caramel on top, make sure it’s even and thick. By this time, the caramel should be relatively thick but if it’s too thick, just put the pot back on the heat or the microwave to loosen it up. Once the caramel is spread thick, CAREFULLY take the second batch of cookies and plop it on top. This is the step that is critical to have the cookies completely cool or it will just crumble. Once the stacking is complete, cut the cookies into bars and serve. This are great cold or if you let sit to room temperature.

Enjoy!

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