Like any mom, I have become adept at "disguising" food when it comes to feeding my son. But at 11, Jay is old enough -- and his tastebuds are refined enough -- for him to tell when I try to sneak chopped mushrooms into his vegan omelet or shredded Brussels sprouts into his pasta.
With a good-for-you dessert like these Layered Chocolate Chip Cookies I don't have to pretend at all. He knows what's in them, and he loves 'em anyway. And they're a great substitute when I too am trying to keep myself from indulging in the decadence of vegan chocolate chip cookies.
There is nothing in these cookies you will not love. A layer of almond cookie is smothered in creamy chocolate and all of that goodness is topped with crumbs of almond flour, more chocolate chips and blanched, sliced almonds. I use semi-sweet chocolate chips and apart from those, there is no added sugar in this recipe -- dates contribute all the natural sugar you need to make these perfectly decadent and yet healthy.
If you're the baker, you'll love them even more because they are so easy to make. Your dough and the crumb topping come together in the food processor and the only extra step is to melt the chocolate chips and stir in some coconut milk. It's so easy, a kid could do it.
Tips for making the perfect gluten-free and vegan layered chocolate chip cookie bars:
- Use superfine almond flour. This helps your cookies bind without much added liquid and gives you a great texture for the cookies.
- I used Deglet Noor dates. If you use Medjool, which tend to run sweeter, you'll probably need fewer. Make sure you soak your dates in hot water for at least 15 minutes before you process them.
- You can play around with the crumb topping, if you want to. Add bits of your favorite candy, oreo cookies, sweetened coconut flakes...your imagination is the limit.
How long will these cookies keep?
You can store them in the refrigerator for at least a week. Or you can freeze them, after cutting them into bars. Thaw completely before eating.
Can I make the crumb topping less crumbly?
I like my crumb topping a little on the loose side, but if you want a crumb topping that stays firmly in place, add a tablespoon of vegan butter or oil to it.
Now let's make cookies!
Layered Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Layered Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. Gluten-free, vegan, naturally sweetened
- 2 ¼ cups superfine almond flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup deglet noor dates (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then drained)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup full fat coconut milk (from the can)
- ¼ cup blanched, sliced almonds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8 X 8 inch or similarly sized baking pan by oiling, then lining with parchment paper.
- Place the drained dates in the food processor and process until they have broken down into a paste with some small pieces dispersed throughout. Add salt, 2 cups of almond flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and vegetable oil to the food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together.
- Put ¾ths of the mixture into the baking pan you've already prepped and, using your fingers, press it into an even layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- While the cookie layer is baking, add the remaining ¼ cup of almond flour to the food processor and process until evenly mixed. If you want the crumb topping to hold together more firmly, you can add a tablespoon of melted butter to the food processor at this point. Remove the crumb topping to a bowl and stir in the blanched, sliced almonds and remaining chocolate chips. I used a mix of white vegan chocolate chips and regular chocolate chips here.
- Place 1 cup of chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl and place it in a double boiler (over a pan with some water in it). Once the chocolate chips melt and are really smooth, turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk until you have a very smooth mixture.
- Pour the chocolate over the warm cookie in an even layer. Spread the crumb topping evenly over the chocolate layer. Place the pan in the oven and bake 12 more minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a rack. Place in a refrigerator for an hour at least before you slice and serve.