1-bowl magic cookie bars with bing cherries, chocolate, almonds & coconut (vegan)

Happy Valentine's Day! I made something with chocolate chips. 

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This recipe reminds me of the first few recipes that I shared here on TMT, where I was inspired by foods from childhood (this is another one of those recipes).

My mom used to make magic cookie bars and I HATED them. Passionately. I was pissed every time she made these instead of just cookies, dang it. They had all sorts of things like coconut, nuts, and random add-ins that just weren't my jam at the time. 

Long story short, I am now a mature lady who can handle multiple things in her dessert at once. Thank goodness, because these are really good. A gooey, chewy, magical kind of good. Thanks for the inspo, mom :). 

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These magic cookie bars are similar to my mom's in that they have coconut, almonds, chocolate chips, and the random add-in of choice of dried bing cherries. They are dissimilar in that they have an almond butter blondie-esque base and no sweetened condensed milk (the super sticky goopy stuff. I have an aversion).

Apart from my memory of serious dislike, these magic cookie bars bring me back to a time when my home was a ladies-only house, and that whenever we had a girl's night in, more often than not these were what my mom made. And, as much as I couldn't stand eating them, I loved these nights, and making them with her.

To me, these magic cookie bars represent good memories with my mother and sisters. And I dearly love them (my family, not the bars :D). This association, I suppose, is why I made them for a recent Galentine's day get-together. And also probably why I like eating them now.

They are delicious, gooey, and decadent without an entire base of chocolate, and bring a nice shake-up to a spread of brownies, chocolates, and fudge. I didn't plan posting them on TMT because of full life lately, but I ended up with a bit of time for #photographypractice and they are good. So I shall share :).  

And they remind me of love for my family. If we're going to get holiday-ey (I totally went there already), I would rather that Valentine's day be a reflection of love for family, friends, significant others, or our own selves. We are all human, and we all need to feel loved. And, in keeping with the idea that we have food relationships, food can be and absolutely is an expression of love at times. And it truly is a lovely experience to enjoy something lovingly prepared, or to watch others enjoy something that you lovingly prepared. I love this about food. 

I have plans to be back with a heavier-ish topic post (that is currently on hold!), but for now, enjoy the magic cookie bars! I swear, they are better than the dang cookies, or brownies, or whatever else you thought you were going to make. I mean, 1 bowl. ONE bowl. And the morning of Valentine's day gives you a whole day to make up your mind. Or bookmark it for the weekend. Magic cookie bars are anytime cookie bars, friends. 

xox

Alyssa 

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1-bowl magic cookie bars with bing cherries, chocolate, almonds, & coconut

vegan 

prep time: 10-15 minutes

cook time: 30-40 minutes

makes: 1 8x8 pan 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Earth Balance (or butter), softened 

1/4 cup creamy almond butter

1/2 cup cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar*

1 T corn starch*

1 T flax meal 

2 tsp vanilla extract 

3 T almond milk (or other milk of choice)

1 cup all purpose flour*

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

for topping:

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks (or chopped chocolate bar)  

1/4 cup dried bing cherries, chopped (or other dried fruit) 

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 

Directions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. 

2. In a medium bowl, add the sugars, cornstarch, almond butter, and Earth Balance. Using the back of your spoon, mix together until sugar is "creamed" with Earth Balance (i.e. well-combined). Add vanilla, almond milk, and flax meal, stirring thoroughly to combine. Then add flour, salt, and baking powder, stirring until just combined. 

3. Pour mixture into lined pan, and flatten out using the back of a spoon, pressing lightly to the corners of the pan. Press desired toppings lightly into the top of the dough. 

4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until coconut is toasted. For gooey magic cookie bars, bake 30-34 minutes; for more firm bars, bake 35-40 minutes. 

5. Allow to cool in the pan for 1 hour before slicing. If you can handle it, these slice even better the next day! Leftovers store well in an airtight container for 3-5 days. 

Notes:

*I really like the buttery flavor that coconut sugar brings to baked goods. If you are without, try brown sugar or more cane sugar.

*If using gluten free flour, add 2-3 more T cornstarch. 

*I'm assuming you could use gluten free flour plus 1/2 tsp xanthan gum. 

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