Meatless Monday Recipe – Caramel Chocolate Bars!

by naturalkidz on December 25, 2011

This week’s Meatless Monday recipe sounds absolutely divine! Try it and let us know how it goes!

For the Crust:
½ cup Earth Balance margarine
½ cup Earth Balance coconut spread
? cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest, finely grated
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups flour

1 cup chocolate chips, dairy-free

For the Caramel Topping:
3 tablespoons water
1 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup Cream from chilled coconut milk
3 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, sliced into several thin pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pine nuts

Directions:
Heat your oven to 350?F. Spray a 13X9 baking pan with vegetable spray.

In a food processor combine the margarine, coconut spread, sugar and orange zest. Pulse to combine ingredients and then scrape the bowl to bring down any ingredients that have risen to the edges. Continue processing the mixture for one to two minutes or until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix the flour and salt and stir to combine. Then slowly add the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse until everything is well incorporated. You’ll have a course dough once it’s all said and done.

Place the dough in your prepared baking pan and press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350? for 20 minutes. The crust will be a nice toasty color when it’s ready. Set aside and let it cool completely.

In the meantime melt the chocolate in a microwave. I did two cycles: one for 22 seconds followed by a stir and another for 11 seconds. Then let it sit for a minute and stir. It should be nice and melted at this point. Spread half of the melted chocolate over the cooled crust. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly across the crust.

To make the caramel, pour 3 tablespoons of water in a saucepan, followed by the sugar. Press the sugar with a wooden spoon to make sure it’s all saturated by the water. Now, turn up the burner and cook over medium-high heat. For my stove, I have to learn toward the high end of the burner to get a nice caramel color to the syrup. You don’t want to stir this mixture, but you can jiggle the pan a little if you need to help the ingredients cook a little more evenly. You should cook this anywhere from 6 – 10 minutes to get the desired caramel color. If it takes longer than this, you’ve probably got the setting too low.

The next step takes a little precision. Premeasure 3/4 cup of the creamiest part of a can of coconut milk. I keep a can of coconut milk in the fridge to help separate the cream from the runnier juice at the bottom of the can. You’ll want to slowly add the coconut cream to the caramelized sugar all the while using a whisk to stir it together. Be careful because the hot syrup will sizzle and you don’t want to get burned from the steam. Once you’ve incorporated the coconut cream, next add the margarine and salt. Stir and then bring this mixture back to a boil and cook for about a minute.

Set that hot caramel sauce aside to allow it to cool for just a minute or two. You don’t want any burned fingers! Once it’s cooled a bit, pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate-coated crust. Make sure it’s evenly distributed across the crust. Then spread the pine nuts on top. Bake the bars in the oven on 350? for approximately 25 minutes. You should notice that the caramel is bubbling while it’s cooking. You’ll know it’s done when the caramel is more firmly set.

Remove from oven and top with remaining melted chocolate. Serve to adoring party guests, family, friends. Or even have a piece for yourself. You’re worth it!

Thanks to NamlyMarly for this recipe!

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