What’s For Dessert? Crunchy Corn, Pumpkin Seed and Coconut Bars With A Caramel Glaze

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What do you serve for dessert with a Mexican-themed vegan meal? That’s the question today’s recipe was created to answer.  Rather than adapting an already-existing Mexican recipe, I decided to go the other way and create something new using typical Mexican ingredients. Corn, of course, came immediately to mind, here in the form of cornmeal. Pumpkin or squash also appears in the form of pumpkin seeds.  The other major ingredient, coconut, is not indigenous to Mexico, but does grow in it’s tropical, coastal areas. In these bars, the crunch comes from the seeds and cornmeal, while the easy-to-make caramel topping contributes to the bar’s dense, moist richness.  Try to find coconut in the large flake form for sprinkling on the top.  It makes for a more dramatic presentation.  Recipe, after the jump…

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CRUNCHY CORN, PUMPKIN SEED AND COCONUT BARS WITH A CARAMEL GLAZE

Preheat oven to 350˚ F/ Yields 12-16 bars

For the bars:

Dry ingredients:

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped

3/4  cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

pinch of salt

plus 1/4 cup toasted whole pumpkin seeds and 1/2 large shredded coconut flakes for sprinkling on top as a garnish

Wet ingredients:

1 cup thick coconut milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup canola or other light vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Into a medium mixing bowl, measure out and stir together the dry ingredients.

2. Into another bowl, measure out and whisk together the wet ingredients.

3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together well.

4. Pour the batter into a lightly-oiled 9-inch square (or similar sized baking pan) and bake in a preheated 350˚ F oven 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For the caramel glaze:

2 tablespoons barley malt syrup

4 tablespoons rice syrup

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Measure the ingredients into a small sauce pan and heat until very hot. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Pour over the warm bars and spread out evenly with a rubber spatula. Immediately sprinkle the additional pumpkin seeds and coconut on top. Cool before cutting and serving.

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