Endlessly Adaptable Cookie Bars 32.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Holiday Cookies 2018 Nov 28, 2018

You would never guess that these cookie bars — crispy and chewy with a toffeelike flavor — are also vegan. Inspired by the dark chocolate and sea salt-covered almonds found in stores, the suggested add-ins can also be switched out for your favorite mix-ins and flavorings.

To make them whole-grain or gluten-free, see the VARIATIONS below.

The flour was measured using the spoon-and-sweep method however, for best results, use a kitchen scale. Make sure to seek out refined coconut oil, which has a neutral scent and flavor and, if following the gluten-free version, a store-bought blend like Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 (what we used) or Cup4Cup that already contains xanthan gum.

Need more inspiration? Check out our Holiday Cookie Generator, featuring more than 300 recipes to suit any taste.

Make Ahead: The bars will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.


Servings:
32 pieces

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 32 pieces

Ingredients
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) refined coconut oil, room temperature but solid (may substitute vegetable shortening)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (may substitute another non-dairy milk)
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips or chunks, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds, toasted and chopped, plus more for topping
  • Flaky sea salt, for topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan and line it with parchment paper, allowing for a bit of overhang.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine the coconut oil and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat for about 3 minutes on medium speed until light, fluffy, and smooth. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl, then add the vanilla extract and almond milk, beating on medium speed until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in two additions, stopping to scrape down the sides and mixing just until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the dark chocolate and almonds.

Scrape the dough into the baking dish, then use the palm of your hand to press the dough into an even layer, without compressing it too much. Sprinkle with more chocolate and almonds on top and finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Bake (middle rack) for about 30 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and the middle looks a tiny bit puffed and under-baked.

While the cookie slab is still warm, use a sharp knife to score cuts for the 32 pieces. Cool for about 15 minutes before using the parchment paper to lift them to a rack. Discard the parchment and complete cutting the slab into 32 bars.

VARIATIONS: To make Spiced Pecan Spelt Bars, swap out 1 cup all-purpose flour for 1 cup spelt flour and increase salt to 1 teaspoon. Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg in with the flour. Omit flaky sea salt and switch out dark chocolate and almonds for equal amount pecans, sprinkling some on top before baking.

To make Gluten-Free Coconut and Date Bars, swap out the 2 cups of all-purpose flour for 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend and whisk it with baking powder (reduced to 3/4 teaspoon), salt (increased to 1 teaspoon), and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Use melted coconut oil instead of solid and whisk it with the sugars (dark brown sugar increased to 3/4 cup), vanilla (increased to 4 teaspoons), and almond milk until a smooth paste is formed. Fold in dry ingredients, 1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds and 1/2 cup chopped semi-dry dates (such as Deglet Noor). Allow the dough to sit for 30 minutes before transferring to pan.

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Recipe Source

From Seattle baker Polina Chesnakova.

Tested by Helen Horton and Bonnie S. Benwick.

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