By the Gracious Vegan
These decadent bars won the very competitive family cookie contest last year. I dipped them in chocolate for the contest, but I don't recommend that unless you need a huge win. They are plenty rich without an extra coat of chocolate. The caramel sauce makes the difference between these cookies and other oatmeal chocolate bars. It adds a depth of cooked-sugar goodness that you can't get any other way. Vegan caramel sauces are difficult to find in stores or even online. If you find a reliable source, please add to the comments below. I have tried many recipes for vegan caramel sauce and have decided I like the Vegan Caramel Sauce recipe from food.com. Date-based caramel sauces unfortunately do not work well. And caramel sauce recipes that use a "dry" technique (heating the sugar without any liquids) work best with refined sugar, the kind filtered through animal bone char, which I won't use.
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray a 9" x 13" inch pan. Lining the bottom with parchment is optional if you need an absolutely smooth removal of bars.
Combine the following. The mixture will be very crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1.5 cups quick cooking oats
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- ¾ cup (1.5 sticks) melted vegan butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Let the crust cool slightly (about 10 minutes) then sprinkle the chocolate chips and chopped nuts over the crust. Mix them together before sprinkling over the crust.
- 1.5 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Mix the following together and then drizzle over the chocolate chips.
- 1 cup vegan caramel sauce
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. You will need to break it into small pieces to cover.
Bake at 350° for 15 minutes (until golden). Let the bars cool before cutting.