This is one of those recipes that I want to gush over. I have so much to say. Yet I know I should just let the pictures do the talking. I mean, just look at those bars. Do I really have to tell you how delicious they are? Look at that ooey-gooey caramel mixed with chocolate. They are one of the most fabulous desserts I’ve made in quite a while. So I went ahead and made these carmelitas vegan and gluten-free. How’d I do that? First, I used my two-ingredient vegan caramel sauce as a base for the caramel layer. Yes, it’s made with tahini. You can taste the tahini here, but not the way tahini tastes when it’s alone. Mixed with maple syrup it takes on a sweet, deep caramel flavor that I adore.
Even Meghan, who doesn’t like tahini, raved about these bars, so don’t worry too much about the tahini flavor. If you prefer, you can use a store-bought caramel sauce in place of the tahini+maple syrup. (vegan or regular)
In place of the butter and heavy cream, I used coconut oil and canned coconut milk. I didn’t detect any coconut flavor in the end result. I did use refined coconut oil, which is better for baking above 300 degrees and has less coconut flavor.
Usually carmelitas are made with all-purpose flour and oats. For my first trial I tried to use almond flour. The almond flour didn’t absorb enough of the liquid, so the texture wasn’t right. The bottom layer became hard, almost like toffee. Next I tried oat flour (I just blended up some oats) and that worked perfectly. To ensure these are gluten-free, make sure to get certified gluten-free oats.
After I took about a bazillion pictures of the bars, I realized there was no way we’d be eating them at that size. They are way too rich and sweet. I took the 9 bars and cut them into fourths. Much better. I left a few out for use to eat and then put the rest in the freezer so they can be a part of my Christmas dessert tray.
While these aren’t light in terms of calories, if you are going to splurge with a dessert, this is a great way to do it. They are made with no refined flour or refined sugar. And, of course, they are vegan, which means you have a dairy-free dessert as well as gluten-free. If you have friends or family who need an allergy-friendly dessert, this is a great pick!Print