Monday, September 2, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Bars - "Celebrate Summer's End Recipe #3"

Happy Labor Day!  We had a busy weekend! Both my sons came over yesterday for a cookout (my daughter had plans this weekend and couldn't come).  I decided to take the night off from photos and posting last night and enjoyed their company instead...we had grilled steak, salmon, chopped salad and my Yellow Cheddar Squash Casserole for dinner and we enjoyed the Lemon-Coconut-Blueberry Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars I made for dessert. It was a delicious meal and the frozen yogurt pops were outstanding!  They tasted even better than they looked. Both boys ended up spending the night and were here all day long today, too -- what a treat! We slept in late and I made us a big breakfast of scrambled organic eggs w/ cheddar cheese, oven roasted uncured bacon, fresh fruit and my Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits. For dinner, I made us a quick and easy Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry since we did our grilling last night.

While hanging around the house this afternoon with the boys, I decided to make a dessert using the hazelnuts I had picked up at Costco a few weeks ago. I decided to make a cookie bar that included both chocolate and hazelnuts. Since the hazelnuts were natural (as in not roasted), I decided to roast them a bit to bring out their nuttiness. I roasted them at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes and then placed them in a dish towel to rub off their skins. It was fairly simple to do.  After they cooled, I chopped them to go into my Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Bars. They turned out delicious. I love the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts together -- it reminds me of the sugar riddled "Nutella" I used to enjoy in my former life. These bars, however, did not contain added sugar (other than the sugar contained in the organic Green & Black's 70% bar that I chopped to use as chocolate chips). Even more amazing is that these cookie bars were made using my sugar free "Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk"...yes, sweetened condensed coconut milk that contains NO sugar. Instead, it uses my favorite natural sugar free sweetener to bake with...Swerve!!!  I used Swerve in both the crust for the cookie bars, as well as in the "sweetened condensed coconut milk" that I use to make them. Do you know HOW many doors to other decadent recipes this one little sugar free recipe for sweetened condensed coconut milk opens??? It opens LOTS of doors and possibilities! It's liquid gold...especially with the upcoming baking season upon us.  On of the ingredients in my sweetened condensed coconut milk is vanilla extract, but this afternoon, I decided to make it using a vanilla bean (I split it lengthwise with a sharp knife and scraped out all the little vanilla seeds to add to the coconut milk) and in addition to adding the vanilla bean seeds, I tossed in the pod, too, so it could simmer with the milk and infuse vanilla flavor as it reduced. It gave an awesome vanilla flavor to the condensed milk and you can see all the little vanilla bean seeds just like you can in vanilla ice cream. If you happen to have a vanilla bean hanging around the house, you might want to try that, too...otherwise the extract works just fine. I snapped a few photos of my decadent bars below, as well as posted the recipes for both the Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk and the Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Bars. This was a really "sweet" way to end the Labor Day weekend!  P.S. -- if you haven't yet entered to win a Weber grill as well as some free Swerve in my Swerve Giveaway (courtesy of Swerve)...make sure you check out the details on how to enter below. Enjoy!

Freshly roasted and skinned hazelnuts...waiting for chop-chop time!

Look closely and you can see the tiny little specks of vanilla beans in the coconut from the Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk I made using a vanilla bean instead of extract

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Bars

1 cup Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (recipe below)
1 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (the longer shreds)
1 (3.5 ounce) bar of 70% cacao chocolate, chopped (I used Green & Black's)
1-1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I used Honeyville's)
1/4 cup Swerve granular sweetener (or equivalent sweetener to 1/4 cup sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, diced (I used Kerrygold's)
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, flax, Swerve, cinnamon, diced butter and 1 egg.  Using a pastry or dough blender/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 (or line a regular pan with parchment paper).  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, hazelnuts 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. 

Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (*Note: Recipe makes 2-1/2 cups)
2 (14-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk (I used Native Forest)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used Kerrygold's)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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 almost by half.  Taste for sweetness.  If additional sweetness is desired, add liquid stevia drops until desired sweetness is achieved (I added about 10-15 drops).  Makes approximately 2-1/2 cups of sweetened condensed coconut milk. Cool before using to make cookie bars.  Refrigerate any unused portion.

*Note:  Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Bars use only 1 cup of Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk -- this recipe makes 2-1/2 cups. If desired, the above recipe for the sweetened condensed milk can be halved.

This morning's breakfast with the boys!
My Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits...if you haven't tried them...why not?  ;-)
Tonight's quick and easy Chicken-Broccoli Stir-Fry

5 days Left to Enter the Swerve Giveaway!
Contest ends Friday, September 6, 2013 at Midnight EDT (details below)

The kind folks at Swerve recently contacted me and have allowed me to offer Gourmet Girl Cooks' followers a chance to win an exciting "Celebration to Summer's End Giveaway"!  One lucky follower will win a:  Weber 22.5” Silver One-Touch, Kettle Grill AND a Three-Pack of Swerve (see below). As most of you that follow me already know, I have been using Swerve for almost a year now and it is my favorite "zero calorie" natural sweetener to bake with. It tastes great and measures cup-for-cup just like sugar, which makes it super easy to substitute in calculations involved! It contains no artificial ingredients and comes in both granular and confectioners (powdered) versions. With the upcoming Labor Day weekend ahead, I will be posting some delicious "end of summer" recipes using stay tuned!  Ready, set....GO!  Begin entering now!

P.S.-- if you are already a Swerve lover like I am, and your supply is getting low...Swerve is currently running a special through Tuesday, September 3rd, for $9.99 each (for a 16-oz bag) or you can grab 6 packs of Swerve for $49.98 ($8.33/each + free shipping). You can click here to grab this special ---> Swerve

The winning contestant will be chosen at random (must be a U.S. resident).  To enter a chance to win, all you need to do is: Leave a comment here on my blog and include the words "Swerve BBQ Contest" (1 entry per person per day).  Contest ends Friday, September 6, 2013 at Midnight EDT.  The winner will have 24 hours after being announced to contact Gourmet Girl Cooks (by email at GourmetGirlCooksBlog @ with their shipping address. If no response is received in 24 hours, a new winner will be selected.

*The product provided in this giveaway is contributed by and will be sent directly to the winner by Swerve.


Katie D. said...

I'll be making these soon!! Swerve BBQ Contest!

Susan M. said...

My husband loves the regular version of these. I haven't made them in over a year but I see them in the near future. Thanks for posting! "Swerve BBQ Contest"

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Katie D! I hope you enjoy them! Good luck! :-)

Hi Susan M! I have a recipe posted for the regular version too on my blog -- just type "Magical Cookie Bars" in the search bar on my blog! Good luck! :-)

Chris said...

What a perfect sounding weekend.....with yummy food too. Our son and family (twin grand-daughters) live way down in Texas so we only get together about once a year. Planning a visit this fall-can't wait! They eat this way too.....can't wait to teach them some of your recipes!
Still would love to win the Swerve BBQ Contest!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Chris! Lucky you with twin grand-daughters! How nice that they eat the way you do, too. Makes it more fun to plan meals when you get together, I'm sure. I bet you are excited to see them this fall. Good Luck! :-)

Anonymous said...

How do you think the bars would work if you left out the chocolate? Would love to win the "Swerve BBQ Contest"

Deanna Stevens said...

Those bars look delish! be great to serve at a BBQ. Love to win the "Swerve BBQ Contest"

Anonymous said...

My goodness, these look delicious! Sure would love to win the "Swerve BBQ Contest"

DEBORAH S said...

I love love love your recipes!! Especially the Cheddar Biscuits! OMG they are soooo good!! Even my very picky husband loves em! I would love to win the SWERVE BBQ CONTEST, and continue cooking all your awesome grill recipes!

Aphid said...

You have unsalted butter for a fat in the sweetened condensed coconut milk there a reason not to use coconut oil here?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Aphid! The only reason I chose to use butter is because I like the flavor of butter. If you want to keep it totally dairy free, then by all means...coconut oil should work perfectly fine! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous! If you wanted the bars to have no chocolate...that would work fine -- just add a few additional nuts to the recipe for "nut bars". Make sure you give me some way to identify you if you get selected -- maybe a first name/last initial or some identifying way so I can announce you if you should win.

Thanks, Deanna -- good luck!

Thanks, Deborah -- glad you like the biscuits and it's always a win/win when husbands like them, too! Good luck! :-)

unter der laterne said...

GG, you created these just for me!( well I would like to think so lol!) Perfect!
Your condensed Coconut milk is pure genius, I use it a lot, I had a jar in the fridge that I was unable to use tout de suite so I reheated it in the microwave, it was so hot,so when I put the lid on , it sealed itself and the pressure was off to use right away since my body does not always cooperate with my wishes!

I would love to win the SWERVE BBQ CONTEST !
Bis bald! Barbara.

Anonymous said...

Swerve BBQ Contest

I've never used Swerve before, but your bars look delicious! I'd love to try making condensed coconut milk

Anonymous said...

You make me feel like cooking - Swerve BBQ Contest

Anonymous said...

Swerve BBQ Contest - I hope it takes my comment this time!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

LOL, Barbara! I actually did think about you when I made these. You have said before how you love hazelnuts and I was so excited when I found them at Costco. I don't see them many places at all...especially such a big bag of them. I have been waiting for just the right recipe to use them in. There are a couple of other ideas I have for them as well...I am ready for baking season! Wow...can't imagine how hot your sweetened condensed milk must have gotten to seal the jar! LOL I like having the extra condensed milk and may try freezing it to see if it loses any quality when thawed. I may just try it with a small portion though "just in case". Hope you are having a great day today! Good luck! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous -- if the 3 posts this afternoon were all yours...I need you to identify yourself the next time you post or re-post again and put some sort of name or identifier so I will be able to announce you if you get chosen. The contest goes until this Friday at midnight EDT and I plan to announce the winner this weekend some time. Please add a name so I can announce you if you win. Thanks! :-)

Unknown said...

Absolutely cannot wait to make these bars!! Thank you! Swerve BBQ Contest

unter der laterne said...

GG, I hope that you are getting enough rest! This contest is a lot of work, on top of it you created these new wonderful recipes. You stay up soo late(just as I am)
I went to Costco and completely forgot the hazel nuts. Bought 4 jars of the Almond butter which I use in the yogurt . You are right they are on the way out and I was advised to leave a complaint at the little desk that they have by the entry. If enough people voice their opinion, it might make a come back.
I am glad that you had a good time with your boys!
No need to respond, you will get 5 minutes more sleep, lol!
Stay well! Barbara!

Cathy M. said...

Love following your blog, these Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Bars look absolutely amazing and I can't wait to make them for my daughter. She'll be so thrilled. Yay "Swerve BBQ Contest"!!!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

I hope you enjoy them, Renee -- Good Luck! :-)

Thanks, Barbara! :-) (just a tiny answer)

Hi Cathy -- I hope your daughter enjoys them...Good Luck! :-)

Cyndi Porter said...

I have been using Swerve for a few months now and I lovelovelove it and all the fun recipes, Yum! Serve BBQ Contest.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, Cyndi! I love it too! Good luck! :-)

Carol and little Sophie said...

This looks very appealing. Swerve BBQ Contest

Christine Macneil said...

Oh My Goodness! I have GOT to make those Chocolate Hazelnut bars - the sweetened condensed coconut milk too! Do you know how long the scc milk will keep? "Swerve BBQ Contest".

CyberSis said...


Finally made the cheddar biscuits and they're great! They're *perfect* with a dish my hubby makes every once in a while that he calls "Spanish Rice." He no longer puts rice in it and it's even better than ever! :-)

Swerve BBQ Contest

powerfulone62 said...

Viola G.
Swerve BBQ Contest

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, Carol, Christine, CyberSis & Viola G.! Good luck!

Glad you liked the cheddar biscuits, CyberSis! Spanish "rice" sounds interesting! :-)

Hi Christine -- the SCM will probably keep in the fridge 7-10 days...and I know someone that says they have successfully frozen it before, but I've never tried freezing it so can't say for sure. I did once keep it 14 days in the fridge and it was fine. But 7-10 days is definitely okay refrigerated. :-)

Linda Woodsend said...

I have been sugar free for 3 years and have lost over 50#. Swerve and your website have made this possible for me. Thanks! Swerve BBQ Contest.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Linda,

Wow, Thanks SO much!!! Congratulations on your weight loss! :-)

3beezmum said...

Hello.. what are the nutritional values on this? Thanks!