When I was in elementary school, they called these “bongo bars” on the cafeteria menu, and unlike most school food, they were delicious. I don’t know the history behind the name, but many consider this to be a family recipe, passed down from generation to generation. Well, one thing for sure is some of those recipes that are developed in grandma’s kitchen are the best ever. I never forgot those luscious chocolate chip cookie bars, though I forgot much of what I learned in the classroom, I’m sure.
When my friend, Cruz, who’s idea it happened to be to embark upon this project, shared an idea for 7 C’s cookies, but couldn’t exactly remember the recipe, I got to thinking. What if? What if I took some tasty, nutritious superfoods and other goodies and made gluten-free cookies out of them? Mayan chocolate chips, cacao nibs, chocolate covered goji berries, cocoa powder, ground chile, coconut, organic Columbian coffee? (Cruz says there’s supposed to be some orange zest in there, too, but I didn’t add it. You can of you like.) What if all of this could come together in a gluten-free cookie bar? I’d be thinking I’m a genius for about a minute and a half.
One of the best things about making cookie bars is that it’s easy. There’s no spooning perfect balls of dough, and no getting your hands dirty. Thanks to parchment paper, you don’t even have to grease a baking pan. This all seems to good to be true. I was sure they would crumble. I knew it would backfire. It didn’t. As long as you let the cookie bars cool completely, you will have some truly amazing treats with real nutritional value mixed in. They’re still fattening. I can’t fix everything, you know.
Why does my cookie jar look so sad?
The cookies never last long enough to make it inside of that poor puppy.
(makes 24 cookie bars)
2 1/4 cups Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix
2 sticks butter
1 cup organic turbinado sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup gluten free instant oatmeal (1 1/2 packets)
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
1 tsp. chile/cocoa powder/salt blend
1 1/2 cups Mayan chocolate chips (available at Whole Foods in the bulk section)
3/4 cup grated coconut (I used sweetened)
3/4 cup chocolate covered goji berries (available at Whole Foods or Sprout’s in the bulk section)
1/4 cups organic cocoa nibs (available at Whole Foods, Sprout’s and most healthy grocery stores either packaged or in bulk)
3/4 cup walnut pieces
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
1. *Prepare the organic fresh ground Columbian coffee by placing 3 tbsp. of water in a pan to boil. Once boiling, pour in 1 tbsp. of ground coffee. Stir. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a coffee cup. Discard the grounds.
2. To make preparation easier, soften the butter for 15 – 30 minutes before you begin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13″ x 9″ baking pan with parchment paper
3. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. I do it by hand with a wooden spoon.
4. In a small bowl, crack the egg and beat it until it’s frothy. Add the vanilla and combine with the egg.
5. Pour the egg/vanilla mixture into the creamed butter and sugar and mix well. Add 2 tbsp. of brewed strong coffee.
5. In a medium bowl, sift the gluten-free blend. Add the baking soda, chile/cocoa/salt mixture, orange zest and salt and combine.
6. Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the large bowl and combine thoroughly.
7. Mix in the oatmeal, then the coconut, chocolate chips, cacao nibs, walnuts and chocolate covered goji berries until each bite has something delightful in it.
8. Spoon the dough into the parchment lined pan and spread evenly across the surface.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack thoroughly. If you cut into the cookies before they have cooled all the way, they will crumble.
11. Bring on the almond milk, or your favorite cookie eating refreshment and enjoy!
Note: You could add some xanthan gum, I suppose, but I didn’t and they stick together well as long as you don’t put them under undue pressure.