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Magic Fruit Cake Bars with White Chocolate Drizzle

I have a big surprise for you guys! For the last month, my buddy Sam from ItDoesntTasteLikeChicken.com and I have been secretly organizing a brand new event called the Vegan Mystery Box Challenge. What is the #VMBC, you ask? Much like the TV show Chopped, the idea is that Sam and I would choose three mystery ingredients and invite all the other bloggers in our vegan community to create their own unique recipe with these same ingredients and we’d all publish them on the same day, in one big festival of awesome vegan recipes.

VMBC

Well, today is that day! I’m so excited to introduce the first-ever Vegan Mystery Box Challenge, and the three ingredients we chose were [cue Ted Allen voice]… coconut milk, pistachios, and cranberries. We announced these ingredients to our group of 20+ bloggers about 10 days ago, and they all created some really unique and tasty dishes — check out the bottom of this post to see what everyone else created with these three ingredients.

As far as my own recipe, it definitely took me longer than the 30 minutes they have on Chopped to come up with the right dish. I knew I wanted to do something holiday-ish, and the combination of fruits and nuts reminded me of fruit cake, while the coconut and nuts reminded me of those horribly unhealthy Magic Cookie Bars (you know – buttery graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch chips, etc.) that everyone makes for the holidays. So, I decided to splice together a healthier spin on magic cookie bars with a fruit cake feel – all finished with a white chocolate drizzle made from coconut milk + cocoa butter. As bizarre as that all sounds, this turned out to be one of my favorite recipes that I’ve published all year. A pistachio crust, date and cranberry filling, and shredded coconut – all baked until golden and topped with a creamy vegan white chocolate sauce. The process is easy, the flavors blend so beautifully together, and it tastes like an edible version of the holidays. I’m definitely making them for Christmas next week and I hope you’ll give them a shot!

Magic-Fruit-Cake-Bar

Magic-Fruit-Cake-Bars

Makes 9 large bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup + 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons dates
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325ΒΊ F

Step Zero: The Coconut White Chocolate Drizzle

This white chocolate sauce is like liquid gold. It’s a totally vegan white chocolate that tastes amazing and actually solidifies when chilled. We’ll make this first so that it can chill while we’re doing everything else. Here’s how:

In a saucepan, combine 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk with 1/4 cup of cocoa butter (can be found in most health-conscious grocery stores), a little brown/coconut sugar, and a pinch of vanilla. Keep the heat *very* low, as the cocoa can burn easily. Whisk regularly until the cocoa butter is melted and everything is incorporated. Remove from the heat and place this sauce in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up a bit, meanwhile…

Step One: The Crust

To make the pistachio-based crust, combine 1/2 cup pistachios, 1/3 cup pecans, 3 large dates, and 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a food processor and process until fully combined and no large chunks remain. If you pinch a piece between your fingers, it should hold together. Press this crust down evenly in the bottom of a 9×9 inch baking pan:

Magic-Crust

Step Two: The Filling

True to its name, this filling is halfway between magic cookie bar and fruit cake, made with dates, nuts, cranberries and orange zest. To make, simply measure out 1/2 cup of dates, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, and 1/3 cup pecans. Carefully chop them on a cutting board until they’re all in small, uniform pieces. Then, layer onto the crust and press down gently:

Magic-Topping

Step Three: The Coconut Topping

Sprinkle on half of the shredded coconut, then grab the white chocolate sauce from the fridge and drizzle half of the sauce evenly over the topping. As this heats, it will seep into the filling, but when it cools, it will create a firm texture that holds everything together.

When ready, pop these bars in the oven for about 15 minutes at 325ΒΊ F just until the coconut begins to brown, taking care not to let anything burn.

Magic-Drizzle

Step Four: Finish

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Then, top with a little more shredded coconut and the rest of the white chocolate drizzle, which will now remain solid and create a beautiful garnish. Refrigerate for at least an hour so that everything can firm up before attempting to cut and serve.

Magic-Fruit-Cake-Top


Check Out What Everyone Else Made for the #VMBC:

30 Comments

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  1. Ooh, these sound so much better than magic bars! Love the white chocolate – I’ve never done that before – didn’t realize how easy it is to make. Thanks for creating the VMBC! Loving it :-).

  2. Yum! These look delicious and festive! Thanks for such a fun challenge! I was THRILLED when I got the ingredient list because I already had a cranberry pistachio recipe in my head just needing to get out! πŸ™‚

  3. Andrew, magic cookie bars were my FAVORITE holiday treat as a kid. I HAVE to make these. Thanks to you and Sam for hosting. I’ll participate again in a flash!

    • Thank you for being a part of this, Casey! Magic Cookie Bars were my favorite too. These have the same kind of feeling but with really interesting flavors. I hope you like them! πŸ™‚

    • You’re very welcome, Leah! Thank you for participating.

      Your recipe is so creative! I love that you also used pistachios for the cookies like I did for the crust. Those look insanely good!

  4. If I’m being honest, I’ve never been a fan of fruitcake and I’ve never even heard of Magic Cookie Bars but your creation here looks phenomenal! I love crumbly crusts and drizzles and all the nuts and berries, so I cannot wait to give this a try!

    Thanks so much for creating the #VMBC! I had such a great time and I would love to participate again – cooking challenges are much more fun and exciting than they are challenging!

    • Haha, no one is a fan of fruit cake! πŸ™‚ But these don’t really taste like a fruit cake anyways. Thank you for taking part in the challenge, Monique, I’m glad you had fun!

  5. These look so good! Can you think of anything that would substitute for the cocoa butter? I can’t have any kind of chocolate but would love to make a version of these. Thanks!

  6. These looks seriously good – especially that sauce, yuuum! Thanks so much for organising the challenge, it’s been so much fun taking part and the choice of ingredients for us all was spot on πŸ™‚

  7. This looks great Andrew! Been wanting some sort of healthy bar that doesn’t contain oats or wheat flour! Can’t wait to make these!

  8. Wow, your home-made white chocolate is just amazing, I have to try it!!! Thank you πŸ™‚
    The VMBC is like “Battle food” in France, a happy and creative event πŸ˜‰

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