The bake sale I participated in was raising funds for a farm animal refuge in my neck of the woods, and we were getting a lot of preliminary buzz. As this was our first fundraising event held for the sanctuary, we really wanted to knock people’s socks off. I volunteered to make all of the gluten free items and wanted to offer something besides the requisite cupcake; something that both gluten freebies and gluten lovers would swoon over.
These bars – they sold out faster than you can say Himalayan sea salt.
When I first started getting requests for the recipe, I took a little bit of pleasure in telling them it was top secret. After the umpteenth request? Not so much. I won’t be sharing any other recipes from the book before it gets published; but if you like what you see here, I promise you, you’ll love this book.
Salted caramel nut bars
adapted from Whole Grain Vegan Baking
The original recipe uses barley flour for the crust, but I wanted to make these gluten free. I had a lot of buckwheat flour taking up space in my freezer, so that’s what I used. As it turns out, it pairs perfectly with the heady caramelized filling and salty sweet chocolate on top.
For the crust:
Parchment paper (enough to line the pan with an overhang)
1 3/4 cups (210 g) buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (56 g) semi-solid coconut oil, melted
For the filling:
2 tablespoons (28 g) semi-solid coconut oil
1/4 cup (48 g) dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (84 g) brown rice syrup
1/2 cup (60 g) dry roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (70 g) raw cashews, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (30 g) raw pumpkin seeds
Generous pinch of kosher or Himlayan sea salt
For the topping:
1/2 cup (88 g) semisweet chocolate chips
Himalayan sea salt
To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (or lightly oiled foil), with a 2-inch overhang.
Place the flour, salt and maple syrup in a food processor. Add the oil, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, until moistened. The dough is ready once it holds together when pinched. You can mix in a bowl with a large wooden spoon if you’d prefer, but be prepared to give your arm a workout. Press down evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan, with moistened hands if needed. Pre-bake 10 minutes.
To make the filling: In the meantime, place the oil, coconut sugar, and syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, add nuts and salt, and cook for an additional minute, until the sugar crystals are dissolved and the syrup has thickened just a little. Remove from heat and stir in the pumpkin seeds.
Remove the pre-baked crust from the oven. Place the nuts on top and use an offset spatula to evenly spread them all over the crust. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the nuts are golden brown on top. Keep a close eye on the nuts so that they don’t overbake!
Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips on top, letting the residual heat melt them for you. Use an offset spatula to spread them over the nuts. Sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt.
Let cool completely before cutting into squares. The squares will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Yield: 16 squares
Prep time: 15 minutes (some of it while the crust pre-bakes), Cook time: 25 minutes