Saturday, March 9, 2013

Absolutely Magical Cookie Bars

Today it was bright, sunny and beautiful out -- it actually made it to 61 degrees late this afternoon. Tomorrow is supposed to be 67 degrees....yay!  I am so looking forward to a little warmer weather after this last brutal cold snap we had.  After I ran some errands today, I came home and decided to make a grain free/no sugar added version of the Magic Cookie Bars I used to enjoy eating when I was young...and have made almost every Easter and Christmas (substituting the red & green or pastel colored M&Ms for the chocolate chips to make them festive). Today, to substitute for the chocolate chips or M&Ms of "yesteryear", I chopped up a bar of Green & Black's 70% cacao chocolate bar to use instead. Besides being good, they are so easy to make, too.

Obviously, since I can't just buy a can of sweetened condensed milk any more to make them, they aren't quite as convenient to make...but it is possible to recreate a sugar and grain free version (using Swerve sweetener) with a little time and patience. For anyone that doesn't know what Magic Bars are...they are simply a "graham cracker and melted butter crust" cookie bar layered with nuts, coconut, chocolate chips and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and then baked and cut (after cooling) into nice oooey....goooey....chewy cookie bars.  Since I don't use sugar or eat grains any more...I made my own version...I made "Absolutely Magical Cookie Bars" instead! Even though they are a little time consuming compared to the original version, I think they are worth it for a special treat.  I snapped a few photos below as well as the recipe.  Note that the recipe yields twice the amount of "sweetened condensed milk" (made with Swerve) needed for this recipe, but since it takes about 45 minutes to make it, I doubled the condensed milk part and made extra to use for another recipe. If you want, you can instead cut that part of the recipe in half (using only 1 can of coconut milk) or increase the crust, nuts and coconut part of the recipe and make a larger 9x13" pan of cookie bars instead of the 9x9" size pan I made.  You are supposed to let them cool completely before cutting...forgive me for being a little bit impatient!  :-)   Enjoy!

P.S. - Here are a few of my other dessert recipes using my sugar free sweetened condensed milk: Desserts made w/ Sugar Free Sweetened Condensed Milk. Enjoy!

Voila!
Fresh out of the oven!
Take a closer look...
BOOM!
KA-BOOM!

Absolutely Magical Cookie Bars

Ingredients:
1 cup Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (recipe below)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (the longer shreds)
1 (3.5 ounce) bar of 70% cacao chocolate, chopped (I used Green & Black's)
1/4 cup ground golden flax meal
1/4 cup Swerve Sweetener (or equivalent sweetener to 1/4 cup sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, diced
1 egg


For the Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (makes 2-1/2 cups):
2 (14-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup Swerve granular or confectioners sweetener (or equivalent sweetener to 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (salted butter is okay to use)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stevia drops, optional

Directions:
To make the Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk, add coconut milk to a small heavy saucepan and stir in Swerve or sweetener of choice, butter and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. After milk comes to a boil, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer, stirring and whisking frequently for about 45 minutes until reduced by almost half. Taste for sweetness. If additional sweetness is desired, add liquid stevia drops until desired sweetness is achieved (I add about 10 drops). Makes approximately 2-1/2 cups of sweetened condensed coconut milk. Cool before using to make cookie bars. Refrigerate any unused portion. (*Note - cookie bar recipe uses only 1 cup of the sweetened condensed milk; refrigerate any leftover condensed milk).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, flax, Swerve, cinnamon, diced butter and 1 egg. Using a pastry/dough cutter, cut butter and egg into flour mixture until a thick, dense dough forms. Using your hands or a rubber spatula, press dough evenly into an 8x8" or 9x9" nonstick baking pan. Bake crust at 325 degrees for 12 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove crust and let cool about 15 minutes.  

Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Layer chocolate, walnuts and coconut on top of crust and drizzle evenly with 1 cup of sweetened condensed coconut milk. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly golden on top.  Let cool completely and cut into bars.  

*Note:  Absolutely Magical Cookie Bars use 1 cup of Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk

Extra 1-1/2 cups of "Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk" leftover for another treat!
        


39 comments:

Dilleshaw said...

These look wonderful! Is there something I can substitute for the Swerve?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Dilleshaw --You could use erythritol if you have it...or Truvia if you have that. You could also use stevia, you just need to be careful with it and not use too much (the measurements would be different for the stevia).

CyberSis said...

My goodness gracious! Sweetened condensed coconut milk! Who would have imagined that! I know who ... "GGGC," that's who! (Genius Gourmet Girl Cooks!)

I really must get a hold of some of that Swerve now. no one around here has heard of it, not even Whole Foods. I've been wanting to to try it for a while but no one around here has heard of it, not even Whole Foods. I've used Truvia, even have a little left in my pantry. It's OK for some things, but in others it asserts it's own "personality" a little too much. Don't know if it's the erythritol or the rebiana that does that, but I'm not really looking to buy more.

The Swerve website says it's erythritol plus oligosaccharides, which I understand is the same thing as inulin. I use inulin as a "pre-biotic" and find that it has a slightly sweet flavor with no funny aftertaste. Maybe I'll order the free sample pack of Swerve and give it a try. I gotta make some of that sweetened condensed coconut milk! I just might be resurrecting some of my "old" recipes. :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

You could probably experiment using other sweeteners too -- possibly stevia or xylitol. I have xylitol but have never used it because it's supposed to be highly toxic and deadly to pets -- I just don't trust myself enough not to drop some or something and I don't ever want to do anything to harm my little dog. My Whole Foods sells Swerve -- I wonder if your store could order it for you?

CyberSis said...

Oops, sorry about the double sentence fragment above ... shouldn't post to blogs when I'm half asleep! :-)

I've considered trying xylitol, but any little concern about "GI distress" kind of scares me away from it. I guess you'd have to eat it in quite large amounts to experience that, but still ... I may pick up a small amount some time to try. I don't have pets right now. I don't blame you for not using it for that reason ... that *is* a serious concern. (That's a darling little dog, BTW. Hope he or she is getting along with "Squawky"!)

Whole Foods said they were in a different "district" or something than the store in Atlanta. They didn't offer to order Swerve for me, maybe that's why. I could check with them, but they are quite a distance away and I never get there unless we have other business in the area (not often.) So I'd most likely be ordering on line, anyway.

Happy "Spring Ahead Day."

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Happy Spring Ahead Day to you too, Cybersis! Squawkie & Spike get along okay -- when she squawks, he barks....when he barks,, she squawks! It can get a bit noisy! :-)

Patricia said...

You are such an inspiration girl! beautiful blogs; thank you for all your posts and hard work. Not easy to write down exact measurements, etc.

CyberSis said...

Never a dull moment! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much Patricia! You are right -- it is harder cooking when you have to write down all your exact measurements! :-) No more using the palm of my hand to measure anything! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Cybersis -- no...not too many dull moments around here! ;-)

Linda said...

Do you add the butter and vanilla to the condensed milk before reducing or after - or butter before and vanilla after?

Linda said...

Do you add the butter and vanilla before you reducing milk or after, or butter before and vanilla after?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Linda -- I added the butter and vanilla at the end...after the reduction. Hope that helps! :-)

Robin said...

Thanks for the recipe. I made these last weekend and took one piece each day in my lunch this week. They were wonderful!!!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Robin! You are welcome -- I am so glad you enjoyed them as much as I did! What a nice treat to look forward to at lunch time! Thanks for letting me know you liked them. :-)

Darlene said...

GG, there are no words to tell you how much we love these bars! This may be the thing that finally makes my husband stop missing donuts! Who knew eating WF could be so enjoyable? Thank you, thank you!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Wow...thanks so much Darlene! You are VERY welcome! It is truly comments like yours that make me keep plugging away and writing up and posting recipes and food that I make. I love being able to share the meals and recipes that have made it so much easier for me to follow this plan successfully with others like you. I wish you AND your hubby tremendous success on your wheat free journey! Thanks, again! :-)

Darlene said...

Yes, it's so nice to have support from others doing the same thing...I wondered if the leftover condensed milk can be frozen? If not, how soon do you need to use it?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Darlene! According to my can of coconut milk, it says to "store any unused portions in an airtight plastic container in the refrigerator up to 10 days; in freezer up to 3 months". So...since the milk is the part you need to worry about, it seems you can freeze it. I just don't know what that would do to the texture when it thaws? But you are safe it seems for 10 days refrigerated and longer it appears if frozen. :-)

Darlene said...

I wanted to tell you that I made a lemon pie w/the leftover condensed milk. Remember the Eagle Brand lemon pie recipe? I basically followed that, using the coconut milk. The filling never did set up in the oven, but I hoped it would thicken when cooled (it did). I used a basic WB nut crust. The crust was a little soggy when we ate it (I made it the day before; wonder if it would've been soggy if eaten the same day) Anyway, it tasted pretty good, really lemony. And I've missed lemon pudding. I'm hoping the condensed coconut milk can be substituted in other condensed milk recipes & plan to keep experimenting!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

What a great idea Darlene! Having sweetened condensed milk does open up a whole host of recipe opportunities doesn't it! I do remember the Eagle Brand lemon pie you duplicated. Hope you continue enjoy finding delicious ways to use it! :-)

Terri P said...

HELP!!! My small town grocery has either the cartons of coconut milk...or.. the cans of coconut cream (The really thick stuff) What do I use?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Terri -- I used the thick coconut milk in the cans -- you want it to be thick and rich just like regular sweetened condensed milk is. Hope that helps! :-)

Jessica Bliss said...

Hi Would it be ok to use so delicious coconut milk? That is all I have. Thanks

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Jessica! Sorry I'm just getting around to checking my messages so late tonight. I'm not sure if "So Delicious" milk would work as well. Regular canned coconut milk is quite thick to begin with and since you are reducing it to make it even thicker...well, it might not turn out the same. You could try using it and just reduce it more -- but make a small batch first so you don't waste a lot of ingredients. Let me know how it turns out if you use it. Thanks! :-)

Anonymous said...

I started eating it before putting it back on the oven for the second time! The condensed milk recipe is an absolute genius!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

LOL...it is pretty good, isn't it! Besides being a substitute for "regular sweetened condensed milk"...it can also substitute for honey, and other "gooey type" ingredients in different recipes, too! So glad you are enjoying it! ;-)

KellyG said...

This looks so very good!!.

KellyG said...

I love your recipes!.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, KellyG! :-)

unter der laterne said...

GG, I finally used my concentrated coco nut milk (1 qt) and made these delicious bars. However I made them too sweet! I enjoyed them with my beloved coffee! Thank you so much!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Barbara! I notice that where I used to love the taste of "super sweet"...when you stop eating lots of sweets and sugar, your taste for it is drastically reduced. A couple years ago I would have laughed if you would tell me I would eat any kind of dark chocolate -- I only ate milk chocolate. Now, I eat 85% cacao chocolate and that tastes sweet to me! I guess if you make the bars small and enjoy them with coffee, that might help. :-)

jjflamingo said...

I cannot wait to try these! The original version, which we always called "Hello Dollies", was one of my favorites as a child. Now that I am trying to make more healthy food choices, I am excited to be able to make some new versions of familiar treats. Thank you for your work in recreating the Magic Cookie Bars!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi jjflamingo,

Thank you. I'd never heard Hello Dollies before -- but it's a cute name! I hope you enjoy these and all the other recipes you can create with the sweetened condensed milk! :-)

Anonymous said...

How many carbs per serving and what is a serving?

Sandi said...

Hi Ayla - Do you have an approximate net carb count, based on your ingredients, per serving?
thanks - Sandi

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Sandi,

When I created the recipe a while back, I calculated the carbs. Here is the recipe calculator I use: http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php

There are other calculators folks use too (fatsecret.com, etc.). If you use the same type sweetener, you don't need to count that in the recipe because they are not absorbed. I consume approximately 50 net carbs per day which is total carbs minus fiber. When I make these I make 16 small square servings. Hope that helps! :-)

Momma 2 Twins said...

I cannot wait to try this, I'm literally almost drooling looking at the pictures lol :) I'm sooo glad i ran across your blog today, amazing recipes! Thank you for sharing!!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Momma 2 Twins,

I hope you enjoy it. It's one of our favorites. :-)