First thing… Chloe Coscarelli, you are a sunbeam of light and inspiration! You’re such a positive example to the vegan-diet-minded…especially the youngsters. I tip my hat to you for your efforts and successes in the meat + dairy free community.
I simply adore Chloe. So young, positive, hard-working and successful in her endeavors… from winning on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars while up against traditional cupcakerz using a myriad of dairy products (who are to also be commended for their competitive work on the show because that takes real guts!), to her recent book release of scrumptious vegan-friendly recipes “Chloe’s Kitchen“. I pre-ordered the book for download on my ipad and excitedly bookmarked the recipes I simply HAD to try asap. Turns out I bookmarked almost all of them. Haha! So if you haven’t yet picked up or downloaded Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s new cookbook “Chloe’s Kitchen”, please please do. It’s delightful!
Of course my sweet tooth brought her Sea Salt Toffee Bars straight to the front of the line of recipes to try. Sea Salt + Toffee + CHOCOLATE = a delicious match made in heaven atop a simple shortbread crust. So my husband and I were invited to a fellow meat + dairy free friendz house for dinner and I volunteered to bring the dessert just so I had an excuse to try the recipe and NOT hog it all to myself. Nom Nom!
I must digress for a moment to do a cart-wheel-shout-out for my girlfriend and fellow veggie, Michelle, who prepared the most amazing fall-on-the-floor vegan Mac’n Cheese based off the oh so hilariously entertaining (if you’re ok with some slightly vulgar tongue in-cheek humor) “Skinny Bitch in the Kitch” cookbook by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Michelle tweaked it slightly to her own brilliant liking and it was the perfect meal prelude to Chef Chloe’s toffee bar dessert. Actually, it was a pretty tough act to follow and I was slightly intimidated because Michelle is a veggie-veteran from which I have so much to learn. So thanks, Michelle! She’s been blogging a whole heck of a lot longer than I have about this stuff so please check out her pages of knowledge + other fun stuff @ VeggieGoodness.blogspot.com.
Back to the dessert… it was a hit! I divvied up what was left between us and them at the end of the evening, because quite frankly as mentioned before, my self-control with sweet treats is zero to none when I’ve fallen in love with somethin’ beyond yummy. The next night Michelle texted me that they’d had some friends with little ones over that evening, and apparently the 2 young kiddos (brothers) were cranky as could be, but the Toffee Bars quickly brought smiles and happiness. Yay!
Just a quick note…The only changes I made were to use a Course Gray Sea salt because I didn’t have any Fleur de Sel (a worthy sub), and also added some freshly toasted almonds (coarsely chopped) for more CRUNCH.
So here it is…
Sea Salt Toffee Bars
by Chloe Coscarelli
(makes 16 bars)
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
Line 8″ square pan with foil or parchment long enough to hang slightly over edges
Shortbread Crust ingredients
1 cup AP Flour (whole wheat pastry or gluten-free flours would work too)
1/2 cup chilled vegan margarine
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegan margarine
2 tsp. soy, almond or rice milk (I’m gonna try it with coconut milk next time…hmmmm?)
Fleur de sel (or any fine course sea salt will do)
1 cup semi-sweet “dairy free” chocolate chips — I really like Enjoy Life’s Mini Chocolate Chips because they melt quickly
1/2 cup Toasted Almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)
To make SHORTBREAD CRUST
In food processor, pulse flour, margarine, powdered sugar, and cinnamon until crumbly. Press into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are golden. Remove from oven, let cool, and then chill in fridge.
To make CARAMEL
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat brown sugar, margarine, and non-dairy milk, stirring frequently. Once mixture comes together, increase heat to med-high for 1-2 minutes, until begins to boil and the bubbles move into the center of the caramel. Remove from heat and let for 10 minutes.
To make the BARS
Pour the Caramel over the chilled Shortbread Crust. Let cool, and return the pan to the fridge to chill.
To make the TOPPING
Melt chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Note: if using microwave, might I suggest cooking it in 15-30 second increments and stir in-between to make sure you don’t burn the chocolate. Evenly spread melted chocolate over chilled caramel layer. Sprinkle with Fluer de sel (or other course Sea Salt) and almonds if you wish. and return to fridge. Once the chocolate has solidified, lift from the pan with the parchment or foil (whatever you used), then remove the parchment/foil and place on cutting board or platter. Cut with a sharp knife into desired squares, serve and ENJOY!