Vegan Macaroon Bars

Once upon a time I lived very near to exceptional vegan eatery called Peacefood Cafe.

From the famous chickpea fries to the best vegan burger I have ever put in my mouth, you really can’t go wrong at Peacefood (minus the raw sushi, I’d skip that).

Then, of course, there is the dessert case. HOLY COW that dessert case. It is beautiful and extensive and wonderful and delicious. The carrot cake is a frequent subject of my day dreams. The raw key lime pie is super tangy and refreshing. The raw cocoa mousse pie tastes like heaven took slice-form. And the deceptively simple coconut macaroons are other-wordly.vegan-coconut-almond-macarron-bars

I’m proud to say I’ve eaten everything in their dessert case at one time or another (seasonal/daily specials aside). But I’m sad to admit I skipped over the chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons for a long time.

Until, one day, my friend Dan ordered one post-dinner, so I got one too. It was phenomenal. Moist, sweet, but not overly so, and dipped in dark, dark chocolate. HEAVEN.vegan-coconut-macaroon-bars

It took me several attempts to recreate macaroons that tasted half as good as Peacefood’s. The key, I have decided, is almond extract, and enough melted coconut oil to keep the inside moist and luscious.

The macaroons are yummy, but a bit putsy to make, so I turned the recipe into a bar form so there is less messing around/time between me and ma macaroons.

If you want to create the regular babies, just use an ice cream scoop and shape into small mounds and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet  before putting into the oven instead of pouring into a pan. delicious-vegan-gf-macaroon-bars-with-almonds

Vegan Macaroon Bars with Almonds

Prep Time:  20 mins
Cook Time: 10-12 mins, plus at least 1 hour to chill
Total Time: 1 hr, 30 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces shredded coconut (unsweetened, I got mine for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract (optional, but truly the MVP here; if you don’t have any, sub an additional teaspoon vanilla)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped
  • dash of sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 12×12″ pan.
  2. Place shredded coconut in a food processor or blender and pulse until a rough crumb forms (it should still have some shredded texture, but aim for tiny shred pieces).
  3. Transfer shredded coconut to a bowl.
  4. Microwave coconut oil until melted (about 1 minute). Pour into bowl with shredded coconut. Add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and almond extract, and stir until well combined and sticky. If the dough does not seem sticky enough, add an additional tablespoon or two of maple syrup.
  5. Pour dough into greased pan and press into pan with a spatula. Flatten and pack dough as much as possible.
  6. Place pan into oven for 10-12 minutes, until top is just lightly browned.
  7. Remove pan from oven and place in the refrigerator to cool.
  8. Meanwhile, microwave chocolate chips in 30 second increments until melted, stirring at each increment. This will take about 90-120 seconds.
  9. Chop almonds.
  10. Remove pan from the refrigerator or freezer and pour melted chocolate over the coconut bars. Spread chocolate with a spatula to evenly cover bars. Sprinkle chopped almonds over melted chocolate. Sprinkle with salt, if desired.
  11. Place bars into the refrigerator until the chocolate top sets, at least one hour.
  12. Slice into bars and enjoy!

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