Rich dark chocolate and tropical coconut flakes sitting atop a soft oatmeal crust and covered in homemade dairy- and refined sugar-free condensed milk make these Triple Coconut Chocolate Caramel Bars irresistible. They require only eight simple ingredients, are gluten-free as well as easily turned vegan and can be refined sugar-free.
How about we play a little association game for a moment? I’ll give you – or actually, myself – a keyword, you follow up with the first thing tagt comes to your mind. Ready?
Cooking? Fun. Hard to fail.
With cooking I’ve found that you can hardly mess things up really bad. Sure, you can burn food, accidentally go too heavy-handed on the spices or … But in most cases, some tinkering around will still help you turn a fail into an edible dish.
Baking, however? You’re not the main player anymore. Handing control over to the oven that – if not on good terms with you – can merge ingredients that taste amazing on their own and in unbaked state into … oddly shaped puddles of goo that might still taste good but nobody wants to eat. Can you tell I’m not too fond of baking? What can I say: I like predictability. Prior to recent experimentation I’d have never guessed no-baking could be that much fun and as evidenced in the past weeks have enjoyed sharing some recipes from this category, too.
Yet I also remembered how much I’d liked baking from childhood on – following recipes obviously – and didn’t want to let the oven win that easily. And – heureka! – these bars were born. Let’s talk about them: triple coconut. Meaning three times the creamy/tropical/natural sweetness/give me more factor. Plus – as odd as I find saying it with the nut in there – these are therefore nut-free, too!
While these bars are truly catering to the sweet tooth, most o their sweetness comes from unrefined sugar and only a small amount of refined in the chocolate. Dare I say these little treats are the bee’s knees ;)?
Long story short: this recipe sounds more difficult than it is. Yes, we’ll be making our own non-dairy and refined sugar-free condensed milk. No, this is not hard. Can you stir a few ingredients together and keep an eye on them every now and then for half an hour? It’s the perfect thing on a Saturday afternoon while you do a few sudokus, catch up on your Bloglovin’ feed or just have a little kitchen dance party.
Triple Coconut Chocolate Caramel Bars
For the non-dairy condensed milk:
- 1 can [400 ml] coconut milk [light might work; I used ¾ light, ¼ full-fat]
- ¼ cup [80 g] honey or maple syrup for a vegan version
- a pinch of salt
For the crust
- ¾ cup old-fashioned or quick oats (60 g)*
- 2 tbsps coconut milk
- 2 tbsps coconut butter, melted
- 2 tbsps unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tbsp honey or brown rice syrup [40 g]
- ½ bar [1.75 oz] dark chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsps dried cranberries**
- ¼ cup coconut flakes
- For the condensed milk, combine coconut milk, honey and saltin a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should reduce to ~1 cup of liquid,. To determine this, keep a heat-proof measuring cup by the stove to check.
- When the milk has reduced, let it cool down and then transfer it to the fridge. For the best result chill the condensed milk in the fridge overnight or at least six hours.
- Grease an 8 x 8-inch pan and set aside.
- Prepare your crust by pulsing the oats ina blender to yield a coarse flour. Mix with shredded coconut, honey, coconut butter and honey.
- Press crust mixture into the prepared pan. Top with chopped chocolate, cranberries and flaked coconut. Pour the non-dairy condensed milk on top, spreading it to cover the whole crust.
- Bake at 320 F/160 Celsius for 20-25 minutes. Check in between to make sure it doesn’t burn [oven temperatures vary!]. The condensed milk should be bubbling and thickening .
Let cool completely before slicing.
* use certified gluten-free if necessary
** use another kind of dried fruit like mulberries or raisins for a sugar-free version
Happiness-inducing today: It’s Spring! Okay, not meteorologically yet but the temperatures hit 13 °C today! Sunshine = endless smiles, even on a long day of work.
What’s your favourite form of coconut?
Cooking or baking?