Vegan Chocolate Chip Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars

INGREDIENTS
For the Cookie Base:
  • 1/4 C (36g) Confectioners Sugar
  • 1/3 C (66g) Coconut Oil, unrefined, virgin, room temperature, soft
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract
  • 1 C (158g) All Purpose Flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic)
  • 3 Tbs Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 3 Tbs Water
For the Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (Yields about 1 cup or 256g):
  • 13.6 oz (385g) Full Fat Coconut Milk (1 Can)
  • 1/4 C (36g) Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
For Layering:
  • 1 C (200g) Mini Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate Morsels**
  • 1 C (100g) Shredded Coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 C (150g) Macadamia Nuts, halves or rough chopped*
For Drizzle (optional):
  • 3 Tbs Mini Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate Morsels
  • 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil, melted

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METHOD
For the Cookie Base:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8″x8″ (20cm x 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the sugar, oil, and paste/extract throughly. It will be smooth. Sift in the flour, cocoa and sea salt and add the water. Use a spoon to mix until a shaggy, crumbly yet hydrated mixture forms. Press the dough into the pan in an even layer.
  3. Bake at 350F for 28-30 minutes. The cookie crust will still be soft, but baked through. Pop in refrigerator to cool for at least 20 minutes.
For the Sweetened Condensed Milk:
  1. Meanwhile, while the cookie crust is baking, in a medium sauce pan, whisk the coconut milk and sugar and heat on medium. When the edges of the milk start to bubble with a few in the middle, turn the heat low. It will continue to slowly bubble. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, whisking every 2-3 minutes reducing the milk by a little over 1/3. (Please note the time it takes to reduce down to one cup can vary depending on the temperature of your low setting. Additionally, because water content in coconut milk can very, this will also be a factor in reducing the milk. Just keep the temperature low and an eye on it.) You’ll need one cup (256g) for the bars. If it starts to look somewhat caramel or gelatinous, it’s over-cooked. We’re going for a thicker consistency, but not a color change. To test, coat the back of a wooden spoon, blow on it to slightly cool, and run your finger through the middle. If the remaining milk stays pretty much in place, it’s ready.
  2. Remove the milk from the heat and sauce pan as soon as it’s done cooking pouring it into a heat proof container (I use a Ball jar). Stir in the vanilla extract and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to cool, stirring occassionally.
To Assemble and Bake:
  1. Once the cookie layer is cool, spread the chocolate chips in an even layer on top of the cookie layer. Top with an even layer of coconut. Drizzle about 1/2 C (128g) of the cooled condensed milk over the coconut layer. Top with macadamia nuts in an even layer, then drizzle another 1/2 C (128g) of condensed milk over the top of the nuts making sure the corners get attention too! You may have a bit of milk left over.
  2. Bake at 350F for 25-28 minutes rotating the pan 1/2 way through baking. The nuts should be toasty and golden. Cool completely at room temperature, or pop it in the fridge for about an hour and a half to cool before drizzling and cutting.
For the Drizzle:
  1. On the lowest heat setting, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, about 20 seconds at a time, stirring throughly after each period of warming. Stir in the melted coconut oil. Using a spoon or fork, scoop some melted chocolate up and drizzle over the bars.
  2. Score the bars on any area that touches the baking dish with a knife then using the parchment as handles, lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into equal pieces. Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
NOTES
*Look for raw or lightly toasted macadamia nuts. I’ve used unsalted and lightly salted maca nuts in this recipe. Both are fabulous!
**Look for Enjoy Life brand mini chocolate chips or Equal ExchangeOrganic Dark Dark Chocolate. I like the dark chocolate better because they aren’t quite as sweet as the minis, and they’re organic but they can be difficult to find.

From Vanilla and Bean

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