So if you haven’t noticed, it’s that Girl Scout cookie time of year. Since my husband insists on “supporting his co-workers’ kids”, (um, yeah babe, I’m sure that’s the reason) we have a few boxes in the freezer (yes, they’re better frozen). And as much as I enjoy them, since they’re delicious, I can’t get past all those pesky, unnecessary ingredients. The only way to resist my urge to eat an entire tray of Caramel Delites (they used to be called Samoas back when I was a GS), after of course eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints, is to make my own, healthier version.
Let me stop you there. I know what you’re thinking, “But Tiffany, these aren’t even cookies, they’re bars.” Trust me, you won’t miss the cookies. These bars are so rich and delectable, those cookies will get freezer burn and you won’t even care. Nope, nada, no caring here.
To make these bars so rich and delectable, they’ve got to be filled with some pretty awesome things. Dates are one of my favorite treats and make the caramel perfectly sweet. But they really needed a punch of something else too. What better way to deck out my homemade caramel coconut bars than to fill them to the brim with coconut? Don’t you agree? Good, I’m glad we’re on the same page. And no, I’m not joking about the coconut. It’s everywhere in these babies! My only warning is this: they’re addicting and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself on the couch, watching a chick flick, fork in hand with an empty 8×8 dish. And for those of you watching your calories (which I don’t encourage), while they’re made with wholesome ingredients, these bars are most definitely not low calorie. Everything in moderation, right?
Without further ado, I present:
COCONUT CARAMEL BARS (GRAIN FREE/VEGAN)Inspired by Girl Scout’s Caramel Delites
Slightly adapted from Detoxinista’s No-Bake Twix Bars
Makes an 8×8 DishCookie Crust 1 cup raw coconut butter (make a extra to save some for later!) 4 tbsp raw honey 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted 2 tbsp coconut flour 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp saltCaramel Filling 2 cup Medjool dates (about 25-30 dates) 1/2 cup water or coconut water 4 tbsp raw coconut butter 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp saltTopping
1 cup toasted coconut, flaked or shredded (I use Bob’s Red Mill Flaked Coconut Unsweetened)Chocolate Drizzle 1/3 cup cocoa powder 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp raw honeyPreparation
Preheat oven to 325F and toast your coconut (in the same glass baking dish you’re going to make the bars in) by baking for 3-5 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven, pour into a small bowl and set aside.
Make the cookie crust by mixing the wet ingredients in a medium bowl, then adding in the coconut flour and salt until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into an 8×8 glass baking dish greased with a little melted coconut oil then you’re going to pre-bake the crust (like you might for a pie) by baking for 8-10 minutes, until the top and edges just begin to brown. You don’t want to over bake here because it will go back in the oven with the filling (again, like a pie). After you take out the crust, turn the oven up to 375F to preheat while you make the filling.
For the caramel filling, blend all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender (I used my food processor since I made the filling in it after making coconut butter – no cleaning necessary!), until smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice. This should only take a minute or two. Pour filling over the cookie crust and bake at 375F for 15-18 minutes, until the filling firms up, then remove from oven and top with toasted coconut.
While the bars are baking, make the chocolate drizzle by whisking together the melted coconut oil and honey, then adding in the cocoa powder until well combined. Drizzle chocolate sauce over coconut topping and resist the urge to stuff your face until they’ve cooled.
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