Prepare yourself to bite into a tasty coconut cookie, ooey gooey chewy caramel, crunchy roasted nuts, smooth rich chocolate that will delight the senses with tiny salt pops in your mouth.
Note: There is a vendor at the Oyster Bay Farmers Market who sells cacao butter. Alternatively unsalted butter will make a reasonable substitute.
Coconut cookie bottom:
1 cup dried ground coconut
1⁄2 cup coconut powder
1⁄4 cup whole-wheat flour or nut flour
1⁄4 tsp. fine sea salt
2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1/3 cup / 85ml coconut oil, melted
2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup as needed (honey can substitute)
Date and nut caramel:
1 1⁄4 cup / 325g pitted soft dates
1/3 cup / 80 ml nut butter (I used peanut butter)
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1⁄2 tsp. coarse sea salt
3⁄4 cup/115g roasted nuts (I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
Cacao chocolate coating:
8.8 oz. / 250g cacao butter (not coconut butter or coconut oil)
1 1⁄2 cup / 150g cocoa powder
1⁄4 cup / 60ml maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
Note: raw chocolate can be substituted with two 31⁄2 oz. / 100g bars of dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao).
Makes 16 bars
1. In a small bowl stir the egg and the ground flax together. Set aside and let gel for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. In a large bowl sift together all the ground coconut, coconut powder, flour and salt. Stir in the melted coconut oil, 2 tbs. of the maple syrup, the egg-flax mixture and blend until the mixture holds together when pressed. If not, add the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup and stir to combine.
2. Line a brownie pan with baking paper and firmly press the mixture into the pan, especially around the edges. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are beginning to turn golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature.
3. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F/150°C. Spread the nuts out in a single layer on baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes until fragrant and slightly darker in colour (a good way to check is to cut one in half and check the colour in the center. Instead of cream, it should be golden). Remove from oven and let cool completely. Roughly chop and set aside.
4. Add the pitted dates to a food processor and blend until creamy. Add the nut butter, vanilla bean, and sea salt. Taste and adjust according to your tastes.
5. Spread the nut caramel in an even layer over the cooled cookie bottom. Cover the caramel with the chopped toasted nuts, and press them down so that they are slightly sunken. Place the pan in the freezer to firm up for at least 4 hours (frozen bars are easier to cut and coat with chocolate).
6. Melt the cacao butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from heat, stir in the maple syrup and salt, then sift in the cocoa powder. Whisk together until smooth.
7. Remove the brownie pan from the freezer and pull up the edges of the baking paper to remove the filling. Place on a cutting board and slice into 16 equal bars.
8. Roll each bar in the melted chocolate, then pick up using a fork, allowing most of the excess chocolate to drip off. This part is tricky to do without the nuts falling off. You may find it easier to place the bar in the chocolate and spoon chocolate on top to coat it. Set on a rack and let harden. Place all bars in the freezer to firm up. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Sarah Britton