Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

8-Layer Caramel Turtle Brookie Bars (Vegan)

Apparently I like putting words together as much as I like fusing food flavors. It’s probably best if you just go with it.

Can you believe it’s August already? Wow, I feel like someone stole the first two-thirds of my year. I don’t really like August all that much. Actually, if I had to choose a least favorite month in the year it would probably be this one. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it really, it’s just that there isn’t anything special about it. There’s nothing to look forward to in August and I kind of forget about it until it gets here.


I think another reason that I’m a little prejudice against it is that it always seemed like the longest, hottest month of summer when I was growing up in Tennessee. I can almost feel the cut-the-air-with-a-knife humidity right now just thinking about it, yuck. The only redeemable aspect I can think of were the summer storms, which I do really miss. Other than that though, it was mostly the miserable month that we spent trying to stay cool in the pool. Now that I live in southern Chile, August represents that stupid rainy month smack dab in the middle of winter, and we don’t even get the benefit of a white blanket of snow to brighten the mood.

“Wow Tori, why don’t you tell us what you really think about August.”  Sorry, I’ll stop complaining right now. In fact, I’m going to put on my positive pants and I refuse to let this August be a bad one. Thinking happy thoughts, and speaking of which, let’s talk about these little pieces of heaven in bar form.

It’s probably just the indecisive part of me speaking, but I can’t help admitting that I think there’s something genius about a brookie. I mean why choose between a cookie and a brownie when you can have them both at the same time! These brookie bars are extra amazing because they have a bonus layer of caramel and layers of chocolate chunks and, (the nuts that I prize more than any other now because I can’t get them here) pecans! That’s right, what you’re looking at is a layer of cookie bar, topped with caramel, then a fudgy brownie layer, then a layer of chocolate, then pecans, then more cookie, then more chocolate, then more pecans for a total of 8 decadent layers!

They take just a bit longer than your average Jo cookie bar because you have to let a few layers bake and then cool off a little before adding more. They are pretty simple though and so worth the effort! Here’s to making August awesome by eating these all month!

 

8-Layer Caramel Turtle Brookie Bars (Vegan)

Cookie and brownies are undeniably great enough to hold their own, but put them together and you've got a treat that's like a superhero team-up!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 16 bars

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons strong black coffee
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cookie Layer:

  • 1/3 cup Miyoko's "butter" or any dairy free butter cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut cream *see note
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons applesauce or pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dairy free semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Brownie Layer:

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic vegetable shortening or oil
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup chopped pecans divided

Instructions

  1. First make the caramel. Combine brown sugar, coconut milk, syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Bring to a soft boil and stir occasionally, scraping sugar from sides of pan, for about 5 minutes or until it starts to get thick and develop a dark amber color. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coffee then cool for about 5 minutes while you make the cookie dough.

  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease an 8x8 inch glass pan. Cream butter and sugars together in bowl of stand mixer (or with hand mixer). Scrape sides of bowl and add coconut cream and applesauce; beat until well combined. Add vanilla, soda, and salt. Add flour one cup at a time and beat after each addition but just until combined. (If you are using a hand mixer you may have to hand stir the last cup of flour into the dough.) Stir in chocolate last, just until combined.
  3. Divide the dough in half and press one half into prepared pan in an even layer. Pour the caramel over the top and bake for about 12 minutes until the edges begin to brown.
  4. While that bakes, mix up the brownie batter. In a small saucepan set over low heat, stir oil with sugar and cocoa powder while whisking. Once warm, remove from heat and scrape into a medium bowl then stir in baking powder, espresso powder, salt, and vanilla until combined. Add the coconut milk then the flour and stir in until smooth.
  5. Remove pan from oven and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes to cool a bit then sprinkle on half of the chocolate and pecans. Gently drop large spoonfuls of brownie batter, starting around the edge and working your way to the middle. Scrape bowl with a rubber spatula and use to spread batter evenly. Return pan to oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Remove pan, again, and cool it for another 5 minutes to let the brownie layer cool off. Sprinkle remaining nuts and chocolate over top then crumble remaining cookie dough on last. Return to oven and bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until the top crumbs are browned. Cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Notes

If you have trouble finding coconut cream at your local grocery store it's completely fine to use full-fat coconut milk and scrape the cream off of the top. Just be sure that it's cold enough to separate.

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