What’s better than homemade date caramel? A cookie bar stuffed with said date caramel. You simply cannot resist. I took my favorite homemade date caramel and baked it into a cookie bar. The result is a cake-like cookie loaf with a luscious swirl of date caramel within. It’s sweetened with some coconut sugar (in the cookie bars) and dates (the caramel) and a tiny touch of maple syrup in the caramel layer. I added a bit of cardamom in the caramel to give it a bit of je ne sais quoi, which is subtle and light — and makes it a bit unique, but feel free to swap in cinnamon if you prefer! It will go perfectly with your morning or afternoon cup of coffee — or on its own, if that’s how you roll.
Technique tip: Melt and cool the coconut oil so it doesn’t coagulate in the mixture.
Swap option: Substitute almond butter with peanut butter for the date caramel. Substitute cardamom with cinnamon for the date caramel.
Special equipment: High-speed blender.
For the date caramel:
Empty your dates into a bowl and pour hot water over them. Let soak for 5 minutes to soften. Remove from the hot water, pit and transfer to a high-speed blender or food processor. To the blender, add the creamy almond butter, cardamom, hot water, maple syrup, vanilla and pinch of salt. Blend thoroughly until completely smooth and luscious. Set the caramel aside.
For the cookie bars:
Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, melted and cooled coconut oil, vanilla extract and coconut sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking powder and kosher salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and add the non-dairy milk to help everything come together. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Transfer half of the batter to the loaf pan and spread it out nicely so it’s evenly distributed throughout the bottom of the pan. Add half of the date caramel in the center and spread it out nicely. Now, add the remaining cookie dough on top. Swirl a bit of date caramel on the top (you won’t use all of the caramel here; save the rest for later to use as a spread or in another dessert).
Bake in the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden-brown on the outside and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It should be pretty gooey on the inside. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.
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