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This weekend I was very much in the mood for something caramely. (I know that’s not a word but you all understand). I had been making a lot of chocolaty things over the past couple of weeks and I needed a little bit of a break from it because sometimes it can become just a little too much and you no longer enjoy the flavor if you are having it every other day. While I was watching the food network I saw them make a sort of fruit syrup type topping using dried up fruits and nuts to make it. After watching it, I thought that syrup would be really good on top of a crust. And here we are with these amazing Apricot Macadamia Nut Bars.
I did end up changing the way the topping was made (and adding a drizzle of chocolate top) because, while on the show they made used the dried fruits to make a sort of compote before making it into a syrup, I wanted the nuts and fruit to be more of a highlight than the overall flavor because it would become too much like any other fruit pie if I didn’t. So instead of making it that way, I decided to make a caramel-like topping and then add in the dried apricots and macadamia nuts so the texture was a little more different.
I was so happy with how this experiment turned out. It was absolutely delicious and is almost gone already. While the apricots gave the bars a little more of a chewy texture, the nuts helped to cut through it with a bit of a crunch without taking away any of the amazing flavors that were already in the bars. It was an absolute hit with my grandparents and they are always amazed when something so good can be vegan. I usually tell them that that was my evil plan all along; to corrupt them and bring them to the vegan side. It’s worked so far. At least in terms of desserts.
Because of the topping, these bars are incredibly sweet and will definitely sate even the sweetest of sweet teeth, but make sure not to cut the pieces too large. This is a treat that is meant to be a sort of palate cleanser in a way or had with some tea that will cut the sweetness a bit. But if you are in love with the sweetness, go to town and cut the biggest piece you possibly can. I will admit I have cut a lot of large piece because I love anything sweet, but my family is a little less extreme in their tastes and like things to fly a little more level.
- ¾ cup of earth balance buttery spread, softened
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coconut milk (full fat)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup earth Balance buttery spread
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1 1/3 cup Macadamia nuts, chopped
- ¼ cup of vegan chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium bowl, mix butter and brown sugar until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add in flour and salt and continue mixing until it becomes a soft dough consistency. Press dough into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Place in to oven and allow to cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture has set.
- In a 1-quart saucepan, combine coconut milk, brown sugar, earth balance, and maple syrup and melt on medium heat and continuously stir. Once mixture begins to boil, watch carefully. Once it begins to thicken, add in cornstarch, remove from heat, and stir to thicken it up further. Once it is a caramel consistency, stir in vanilla and lemon. Keep off of the heat and add in apricots and macadamia nuts. Once evenly combined spread the mixture over the crust. Place in refrigerator and allow to set for at least 1 hour.
- In a small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and oil on high for 30 to 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds until it forms a smooth liquid. Remove bars from refrigerator and drizzle chocolate over the top.
- Place back the refrigerator and allow to cool for another 1 hour before serving.