Without adieu, I would like to introduce you to Without Adornment, hosted by Bean. Without Adornment is a delicious recipe site with delicious photos. And all the delicious recipes just happen to be healthy and gluten-free (did I mention delicious?).
Bean is a project engineer when she is not baking up a storm and taking great photos. I enjoyed going through her recipes for something special to serve on the third Thursday in November, which is really special this year.
Due to a rare calendar alignment, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will fall on the same day this year. Something that won’t happen again for around 73,000 years (give or take). Actually, my family will be lighting our first Hanukkah candle and opening our first gifts the evening before Turkey Day, since a Jewish holiday always begins the evening before the date stated on a Western calendar (as per Genesis 1:5, “and the evening and the morning were the first day”).
Since it’s only around a month to go before Thansgivukkah (I really hate that name mash-up, but every other cutesy-poo combo is worse), I am trying to be efficient
|Pecan pie you can eat with your hands!|
Because I want to serve the bars right after the turkey meal, they had to be made with non-dairy ingredients. Bean's vegan Pecan Pie Bars pretty much fit the bill. Nothing says Thanksgiving dessert like pecan pie. Even if it's in bar form.
But I wanted to make them a little more Hanukkah-y by tossing in chocolate gelt. Gelt is Yiddish for money. For centuries, the traditional gift children received for Hanukkah was a few coins. According to an article in the Forward, an American company back in the1920s molded chocolate into thin wafers, then wrapped them in gold and silver foil to resemble coins. It was a big hit, becoming the new tradition which continues to this day.
Most chocolate gelt available is of the dairy persuasion, probably because children prefer it. Parve (non-dairy) gelt is a little more difficult to obtain (i.e., wasn't stocked at the local supermarket yet) so I used the store brand of non-dairy semi-sweet chips (which were very good to eat straight from the bag, by the way). As a bonus, I saved several steps by not having to peel off all those foil wrappers, clean out all that chocolate that always gets caught underneath my nails while peeling off all those foil wrappers, then stand there chopping all that chocolate to bits. But to keep it Chanukah-ish, gelt stays in the recipe name. Sue me.
I omitted the flax seed because I don’t use flaxseed. Although there are authoritative clinical studies that show ground flaxseed may inhibit breast cancer, other authoritative clinical studies show the complete opposite. As a result, most authoritative web sites (such as Dana-Farber (http://www.dana-farber.org/) and the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com) recommend that estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer survivors avoid flaxseed, or consume in moderation (note—this does not apply to flaxseed oil). To compensate for the lack of flax, I doubled the amount of tapioca starch. The bars turns out a little soft, but no one minded one little bit.
|Flavor is larger than appears.|
I don’t have agave syrup in my pantry so I used corn syrup, which is what goes into my pecan pie anyway. The label on the bottle states that it does not contain any HFCS cooties. But if the idea of using syrup of corn makes you gasp for breath, use agave instead. Or extra honey.
Wasn’t sure if the few minutes tapioca-“milk” mixture soak was for the tapioca's or flaxseeds’ benefit, but since the honey mixture needed a few more minutes of cooling down anyway, I left the soak in.
I brought the whole batch to my local Hadassah chapter's annual potluck. By the end of dessert, only one tiny piece was left. Which shows how great these bars are.
I am so glad you were my Secret Recipe Club blog this month. Thank you, Bean!
Chocolate Gelt Pecan Pie Bars
Adapted from: Without Adornment
Makes about a dozen bars, or around 24 squares (if bringing to a Hadassah meeting)
2 cups almond flour
4 Tbl. (1/2 stick) margarine, melted
2 Tbl. olive oil
2 Tbl. honey (light or dark) or agave nectar
pinch of table salt
1-3/4 cup roughly chopped or broken pecan halves
A few pinches of table salt
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup or honey
2 Tbl. honey
3 Tbl. margarine, cut up
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
1 tsp. tapioca starch
2 Tbl. rice (or almond) milk
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
To make crust, preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper; lightly grease the parchment with baking spray. Set aside.
Mix remaing shortbread ingredients in a medium sized bowl until combined.
Press into prepared pan. No need to be gentle because almond flour does not contain gluten to toughen the short dough.
|No need to be very neat, either.|
Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust barely starts to turn brown.
|... because the crust will be hidden by the pecan mixture.|
Remove from oven; place pan on cooling rack; allow to cool completely.
Arrange pecans in a single layer in a baking pan and toast in 350F oven for about 5 – 8 minutes or until they just start to brown and become fragrant. To avoid burning (the pecans, not you), remove pecans from oven when you think they need "just another minute” because they will continue to toast and possibly burn from residual heat. Remove from oven (leave oven on) and immediately sprinkle pecans with salt. Transfer to a heat-resistant dish and set aside.
In a 2-quart saucepot whisk together the margarine, corn syrup and honey.
Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes, whisking frequently. Be careful … the mixture will be napalm hot! Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract (might boil up a tad, then subside). Set aside to cool.
While everything cools, in a small bowl whisk together the tapioca starch and rice (or almond) milk. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk into the syrup mixture until smooth. Gently stir in the chopped pecans and chocolate chips until moistened. Pour mixture onto the cooled shortbread; use a spatula to distribute evenly.
Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the filling begins to set and loses its shine. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. When cooled to room temperature, place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour before cutting into bars or squares.
Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge up to 5 days.