Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.28.19 PMThe first time I put one of these Salted Chocolate Caramel Coconut Dream Bar into my mouth I literally almost had a “When Harry Met Sally Moment”–you know the one when Sally was screaming “yes, yes, yes” in the diner.  Just to make sure that this reaction wasn’t just because of the dry spell in my love life, my friends Alea and Ken tried them.  Alea had the same reaction I did and, although he would never admit it, I think Ken had the same reaction.

I can’t even begin to tell you how dreamy these bars are. Chocolate, caramel, coconut & salt…um, yes please!  Don’t like coconut?  No worries, leave it out!

They remind me of Girl Scout Caramel Delights. Who didn’t love Caramel Delights growing up?

Depending on your food sensitivities there are different kinds of chocolate chips I’d recommend.

Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips are gluten-free, vegan and soy-free but have refined sugar.

Lily’s Dark Chocolate Baking Chips are gluten-free, vegan and sweetened with Stevia but have soy.

Both are delicious, go with whichever fits your needs.

I give the option of using Agave or Coconut Nectar. I prefer Coconut Nectar as it’s much gentler on our bodies.

This may seem like there are a lot of steps but really, once you get the bar in the oven, it’s just a matter of making the toppings. So worth the effort.

I wrote up the recipe so that you will be using a 16×11 pan (a sided cookie sheet)–which means that it makes A LOT of bars BUT you can freeze them so why not bake once and have these goodies on hand so you can enjoy them for days and weeks to come?

And, if you want to make less, just half the recipe and use a smaller pan. Really, this recipe is quite forgiving, you really can’t screw it up.

Makes: 1, 16 x 11 pan (a sided cookie pan)

Cut them to your liking!

For the Bar

Dry Ingredients:

4 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose GF Flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt 

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup refined coconut oil, melted
1 cup agave or coconut nectar
2 Tablespoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate topping:

1 Bag Enjoy Life Or Lilly’s Brand chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons coconut oil

For the Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup coconut milk (from a carton)
1/2 cup agave or coconut nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla Extract
1/8 t sea salt

2 1/4 teaspoons arrowroot
3/4 teaspoon water
1 cup toasted coconut (see below)

For Topping

1 Tablespoon sea salt

Preparation:

For the Bar

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease the 16×11 pan with coconut oil.

In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, coconut sugar and sea salt.

In a separate bowl combine coconut oil, agave or coconut nectar and vanilla until well mixed.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix together.

Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 18 minutes or until it comes out dry with a toothpick.  You don’t want it to be overbaked but it’s decently forgiving once you have it smothered with chocolate and caramel.

While it is baking, make the chocolate sauce and caramel sauce  and toast the coconut.

Caramel Sauce
(you can make this while the base is baking)

Preparation:

Place all ingredients into a small pot, stir together over medium heat. Bring to a very low boil. Very quickly mix together the arrowroot and water to form a slurry (don’t mix it together until the liqiuds come to a low boil). Mix slurry into the liquids, keep on heat until mixture thickens. Caramel sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Once the caramel sauce is made, stir in the toasted coconut (see below).

When the base comes out of the oven, spread the chocolate evenly over the base.  Then spread coconut /caramel mixture on top of chocolate. It will sink into the chocolate a bit.  Liberally sprinkle salt on top. If you are a salt lover, feel free to sprinkle more–depending on the size of your salt crystals you may need more or less, go with what feels best to you.

Place in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate (the caramel won’t get hard). This is where the self control comes in!  Once Chocolate is hard, remove from refrigerator, bring to room temperature before cutting into bite size pieces and enjoy!

How To Store:

Place in a plastic bag or storage container and place in the freezer. When you are ready to enjoy more, bring out of freezer for a few minutes to come to room temperature before enjoying.

How To Toast Coconut:

Never toasted coconut before?  No worries, it’s pretty simple. Here’s what you need:

1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 skillet or frying pan

Add coconut to a medium to large size frying pan. Over medium heat, stir frequently until flakes are golden brown. That’s it–easy peasy right?

The trick here is to not walk away. It seems like it’s doing nothing at first and will take forever for it to toast then all of a sudden…bam…you have burnt coconut.  That’s the worst!  Use your patience and stand close by stirring frequently.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these. Please share your thoughts, comments or how you’ve change them in the comments below!IMG_7352