Maple-nut cookie bars
This post was created in partnership with Bob's Red Mill.
I had zero intentions of coming here with a gluten-free version of this recipe today, but here I am with cookie bars that are chock-full of almond flour, coconut flour, and an assortment of starches. And here I am telling you that I finally discovered what's been causing my GI distress: gluten.
I was in denial for a long time. I thought for certain it was my gelatin supplement (because that stuff can be pretty difficult to digest) or my massive increase in protein (I recently started eating one gram for every pound of bodyweight) (I'mma tell you all about my journey into heavy weight training very soon), but nope - it was the glutens. THE GLUTENS. I spent a couple of days feeling sorry for myself because BREAD IS LIFE, THOM. HOW AM I GOING TO LIVE WITHOUT GLUTENOUS BREAD? But after a few days of zero GI issues, I realized the relief I felt far outweighed a life with gluten. I also realized I wasn't doing anyone any favors by sitting around and wallowing in self-pity (right Thom?), so I put on my big girl pants* and dealt with my new sensitivity like an adult human. And you know what happened? These cookie bars.
Not only are these bars flavorful and delicious, but the texture is surprisingly delightful - the latter of which I attribute to the new paleo baking flour from Bob's Red Mill. One of my biggest complaints about gluten-free flour blends is that they're just too damn starchy. And when you don't add eggs to the equation, too damn starchy can be pretty difficult to work with. But this blend? It's not even the slightest bit starchy - despite containing both arrowroot starch and tapioca flour - thanks to almond flour and coconut flour, both of which help to balance out the harsh texture that otherwise starch-heavy flours lend to baked goods.
What I'm trying to say is that the paleo baking flour makes for next level vegan/gluten-free baked goods. And for those of you who are trying to eat healthier in the new year, I replaced the cane sugar with pure maple syrup. I wouldn't call these bars "healthy" (if you want healthy, eat a freakin' carrot) but there's no denying that they're not completely terrible for you. Or that you'd be far better off accidentally eating half a batch of these instead of half a box of Girl Scout cookies.
*I don't know why I said "big girl pants" because it is literally one of my least favorite phrases.. ever.
Some housekeeping notes:
I rounded up all the things that make the OLC kitchen go 'round. You can finally print recipes! And you have Mimi to thank. And no - OLC is not going GF. I will - on occasion - endure an intestine-ache for a good chocolate chunk cookie. Or double chocolate brownie. Or slice of our boozy Irish wedding cake.
Notes: This recipe can easily be doubled and baked in an 8-9" square baking pan. Baking time shouldn't be more than 6 minutes longer. If you'd rather use agave or coconut nectar in place of the pure maple syrup.. please don't. The flour scoops heavy (even when fluffed with a fork) and I wound up with considerably more than what the package declared as the weight for one cup. For dense bars (these are on the crumbly side), omit the almondmilk. For sweeter bars, replace the almondmilk with up to two additional tablespoons maple syrup. If you want to add nut butter to this recipe, you can add up to 1/4 cup so long as you add a couple extra tablespoons of flour.
This post is sponsored by Bob's Red Mill, the employee-owned grain company that's committed to providing good food for all. All opinions are my own (and I think Bob's Red Mill rules).
MAPLE-NUT COOKIE BARS
1/2 cup (100g) unrefined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
1/2 cup (140g) pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (28g) unsweetened almondmilk
1/2 teaspoon (3g) maple flavor
2 teaspoons (6g) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (270g) Bob's Red Mill paleo baking flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2g) fine sea salt
1 cup mix-ins, divided (below)
Dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, banana chips, etc.)
Chocolate (cacao nibs, dark chocolate chunks, white chocolate chips, etc.)
Flaked things (rolled oats, coconut flakes, sea salt flakes, etc.)
Nuts/seeds (dry roasted peanuts, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, etc.)
Crunchy things (coffee beans, kasha, brown rice crisps, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 5x8" baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with oil; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, almondmilk, and maple extract. Add the flour, baking powder, and sea salt and mix with a spatula just until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup of mix-ins then spread batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle remaining mix-ins over top (use more if desired). Bake at 350˚F for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow bars to cool in pan before slicing. Store in an airtight container. Will keep at room temperature for up to three days or in the freezer for a few weeks.
Yield: 8 bars