Oh, how this recipe thrills me! Rich, decadent, not-too-sweet dessert fit for a special occasion with plenty of good fat and protein. The folks who aren’t on a restricted diet loved it, my son was overjoyed at the treat. It was all sorts of perfect wrapped up in a pretty package. And it was chocolate. 🙂
My son had a birthday recently, and I created these bars for him. I admit I’m loathe to do the usual cake with frosting gobs, because it’s loaded with carbs with relatively little fat and protein. They’re already hyped over the gifts, why add empty carbs and lots of sugar to the mix? So I set out to create a dessert for him that had more fat and protein, was real food and didn’t have gluten or dairy for his intolerances. He asked for chocolate because it was his birthday, and how could this mama refuse those big blue eyes?
For a long time, I’ve ignored recipes calling for condensed milk. It’s not a real food ingreditent, it’s highly processed in a BPA-lined can, it isn’t raw dairy, they use white sugar, it’s got so much against it. Last week, I finally decided to figure out how to make it myself at home using coconut cream to avoid the problem with processed dairy. I hemmed and I hawed about the filling, but I finally hit upon the perfect combination to make a thick, rich chocolate middle without cheating on the real food principles. And as a bonus, it works perfectly for those with dairy intolerances.
The use of almond meal ups the fat and protein while reducing the carbs. I appreciate having almond meal as a weapon in my dessert arsenal so I can fix occasional treats for the kids that I still feel good about. If you want to make this traditional foods instead of just real food, you can grind your crispy nuts at home until they are an almond meal consistency and use that. Because we are traditional foods almost all of the time at home, I view an occasional cheat with unsoaked almonds acceptable. Especially for a birthday. My understanding is that most of the phytic acid in nuts is contained in the dark husk, so using blanched almonds minimizes the problem.
Because I used almond meal from Bob’s Red Mill, it wasn’t very finely ground. You can help remedy that by pulsing your dry ingredients multiple times to help break down the almond meal. I will soon be experimenting with different almond meals to determine which one gives the best baking results.
This dessert was downed in a flash and I later found out that my husband had taken a hostage. He snuck into the kitchen, cut a piece when no one was looking and hid it in his lunch bag. It was so good he had to hide it to make sure he could get a second piece. That poor, little bar sat alone for two days, wishing he could be enjoyed by someone. 😉
This dessert is very filling, so cut small pieces. It’s very rich, but not too sweet. If you insist on doubling the recipe, you can. You will need to bake it a bit longer to get the crust done all the way through and lightly browned.
I’ve also done a butterscotch version of this recipe, which you can see here.
2 cups or 1 can full-fat coconut milk or 2 boxes coconut cream
2 Tbs coconut sugar or rapadura, or to taste
Dash sea salt
Dash concentrace, optional
3/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped, dark chocolate bar (73% cocoa), divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp sea salt
8 Tbs cold butter or coconut oil, cut into cubes
1 whole egg
1/2 cup or more crispy pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts, finely chopped
In a 2 qt or larger saucepan, combine the coconut milk, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Allow to cook while stirring occasionally until the volume has reduced to one cup, about one hour. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips, whisking until melted. Remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla and set aside. Taste and adjust sweetness, if needed.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the almond flour, tapioca, baking powder and salt. Pulse to combine. Add in the cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbs. Remove a little less than half of the mixture from the processor to a bowl and set aside. Add the egg to the processor and pulse until combined into a wet dough. Scrape the mixture into the 8×8 pan and spread in an even layer, smoothing the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, return the crumb mixture you set aside to the food processor. Add the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and the pecans to the processor and pulse to combine. Set aside.
When the crust comes out of the oven, pour the coconut milk mixture over the top of the crust and spread to the edges, then sprinkle the crumb mixture over all, breaking it up and sprinkling it over with your hands, if needed. Pat down any of the crumb mixture that is sticking up. Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until it is set around the edges and the crumbs on top are lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting to allow the chocolate mixture to thicken.