Salted Caramel Chocolate Pepita Squares

I originally planned this vegan salted caramel and chocolate squares as a Valentine’s Day recipe, but now that I’m looking at the pictures these would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.  The pepita seeds (pumpkin seeds) bring the leprechauny green and are also responsible for the satisfying crunch.  Pair that crunch with chocolate, caramel and sea salt and you have a pretty awesome little dessert.  The gooey caramel keeping it all together is what happens when you make homemade condensed coconut milk and bake it;  it’s pretty cool actually how it turns out and there is no coconut taste.  These vegan squares are also gluten-free with the chocolate crust being made with almonds and gluten-free rolled oats.  I made these for my family this weekend and they were devoured in record time; so they come highly recommended.

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This recipe is clearly a decadent dessert and not an all-out health food, but I do think that the pepita seeds (raw pumpkin seeds) deserve a bit of a moment in the spotlight for their nutritional value.  Pepita seeds are high in protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and potassium.  1/4 cup of pepita seeds provide over 20% of the recommended daily intake of iron and almost 50% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium.  I load these little guys on most things I eat (normally it’s in salads or on top of coconut yogurt and fruit) so I’m pretty happy about squeezing them into a dessert recipe.

The pictures below show how the squares will look before and after the oven; they will look like a soupy mess going in  but once they come out and have time to cool that will all be resolved.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Pepita Squares

by Two Green Peas

Prep Time: 30min

Cook Time: 30min

Ingredients

    for the crust

    • 3/4 cup almonds
    • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
    • 4 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
    • 3 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt

    for the coconut caramel

    • 1 can full fat coconut milk
    • 2/3 cup brown sugar

    for the toppings

    • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup raw pepita (pumpkin) seeds
    • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt

    Instructions

    for the crust

    1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper (use two sheets, going opposite ways)

    1. Process almonds to a course flour (we use a Magic Bullet), add to medium mixing bowl.

    2. Finely process 1/2 cup rolled oats, add to almonds

    3. Pulse 1 cup rolled oats (want to keep majority of oats in tact) and add to almond/oat mixture

    4. Add melted coconut oil, maple syrup and sea salt

    5. Press into parchment lined pan, press firmly and use a pastry roller if you have one.

    6. Bake for 10-13min and then let cool.

    for the coconut caramel

    In a medium pot combine coconut milk with brown sugar, whisk and bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 12-14 minutes, whisking occasionally until slightly thickened.

    to assemble

    1. Pour 1 1/4 cup of the cooled coconut caramel over crust, sprinkle chocolate chips, pepita seeds and sea salt.

    2. Bake for 30min at 350, let cool for approx. 30min.  Refrigerate overnight before serving or chill in freezer for 1-2 hours.

    Inspired by OhSheGlows Magical Coconut Bars and Almond Coconut Chocolate Bars

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    Enjoy xo Jessica

     

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