No-Bake Vegan Cookie Dough Bars

Quarantine has given me the chance to try some new things, and concentrating on vegan treats is one of them.  I’m not sure that I would go so far as to say that these Vegan Cookie Dough Bars are *healthy*, but they do offer an alternative if you’re trying to avoid animal products, gluten, or simply experimenting with new textures.  They’re no-bake, which makes them delightful for small NYC kitchens, especially as many of us are working from home.  It’s hot enough, even before turning the oven on!

Take my word for it, these decadent treats are a must-try this summer. Pair on with your morning coffee for a guilt-free energy boost.  

What’s your dessert weakness: ooey gooey chocolatey, or refreshingly fruity?  Let me know what you’d like to see more of in the comments!

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (substitute honey for non-vegan bars)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¾ cup vegan chocolate chips (for the bars)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips (for the chocolate layer)
  • ¼ cup unsalted almond butter or peanut butter
  • Maldon sea salt, to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Line a square, 8 inch baking pan with wax paper.  Make sure that the pan fits in your freezer!
  2. Mix together flour, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and ¾ cup vegan chocolate chips in a medium bowl until combined.
  3. Pack dough into the bottom of your baking pan. Set aside.
  4. Melt ½ cup vegan chocolate chips in a microwave until pourable, checking and stirring them every 20-30 seconds.  
  5. Mix in your nut butter and stir until smooth.
  6. Pour your chocolate mixture on top of your cookie dough, and spread evenly with a spoon if it doesn’t settle right away.
  7. Place in your freezer for two hours.
  8. Cut into desired pieces, and enjoy! I like to top my bars with a bit of Maldon sea salt flakes.

Think Pink Lemonade Bars

What’s the first fruit that comes to mind when you think of “summer”?

I think of lazy days on my grandma’s patio, and the taste of sour-sweet pink lemonade.  To me, strawberries and lemons blend to create a magical summer hybrid. This memory of lazy, fruity days contrasts drastically from my feelings right now of being very stuck indoors in New York, a sentiment that we’re all coping with in the United States.  It can be difficult to get into that summer spirit when we aren’t seeing friends or doing the fun things we think of when we want to connect during a balmy summer in the city. That being said, we need to stick to the rules so that we can pull ourselves out of this pandemic mess.

These Pink Lemonade Bars are full of tart lemon mingling with luscious strawberry. The bars are an alluring light pink, dusted with a pinch of powdered sugar, and garnished with strawberry slices and fresh flowers. They are the pure, polar opposite of the tumult we are experiencing this summer. Each bite transports you to a magical outdoor party, complete with your favorite tangy summer memories.

What else is inspiring me this month, besides anecdotes from summers past? 

This Dior Autumn-Winter 2020-2021 video captured my attention recently. Whether you are fashion-forward or comfy and content, Dior’s miniature clothes being prepared for mermaids and other mythical creatures and characters will fascinate and enchant you. Can you guess which stylish creature is my favorite? It will be interesting to see how other fashion brands showcase their designs as the pandemic wears on.

I’ve been enjoying the recipe and restaurant posts by Dom of Dom N’ The City. Her food photography makes me want to lick the computer screen. Check out her recent blog post for a list of some Black-owned businesses to support in Brooklyn.

The Qi floral tea is a beautiful whole flower tea that blossoms in your cup. It’s soothing just to watch the flowers unfurl in a glass mug. A cup of calm is exactly what you need sometimes, especially during months like these.   

The television show Devs captured our attention on Hulu, initially because we are fascinated with Nick Offerman in any role beyond Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation. This ominous show about a tech company in Silicon Valley had us contemplating the future of Big Tech, determinism, and the nature of life itself.

Enough chit-chat. Scroll down for this summery Think Pink Lemonade Bars recipe!

Ingredients:

(Makes about 12 bars)

For the Crust:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For The Filling:
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3-4 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup chopped strawberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment and spray with a nonstick cooking spray (I used a 9×13 inch pan). I like to leave some extra parchment along the edges, so that the bars are easier to pull out when they are done baking.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for the crust together until light and fluffy. Then, incorporate the flour and salt. Your dough will be slightly crumbly.
  4. Line your prepared pan with your dough. Pack it into each corner so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown along the edges.
  6. Blend the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and eggs in a food processor. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse until smooth.
  7. Once smooth, pour the filling over your prepared crust.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top of the bars begins to look slightly brown. Take out off the oven and let cool.
  9. Sift on a layer of powdered sugar. Cut and serve.

Recipe adapted from The Baker Upstairs.