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With utter sadness, I packed up the Christmas stuff today. It’s the worst feeling. It’s like when you find out the Pevensies can’t visit Narnia anymore. I did leave out some shiny, pom pom goodness because it’s still winter . . . even though I’m surrounded by cacti. If you’re feeling post Christmas blues, these bars might just be the answer. Let’s suck out every last bit of winter magic.

This recipe is easily adaptable . . . or maybe I just think it is because I never have all the ingredients on hand and am constantly subbing and twerking  tweaking. It’s totally paleo. Eh . . . it’s almost paleo. It has some sugar but guys . . . it’s 2014.

In the spirit of New Year’s, I wanted to make a sweet treat and this is what I landed on http://balancedbites.com/2010/12/easy-recipe-grain-free-magic-cookie-bars.html. If you haven’t heard of Diane Sanfilippo, I’m sorry/you’re welcome. She’s the author of Practical Paleo, one of the best books I have bought all year. Even if you aren’t interested in going “paleo,” it’s a tremendous resource. I really mean that. She covers everything from adrenaline fatigue to butternut squash soup. I am constantly pulling it out for recipes and references. The poor book is covered in weird kitchen splash.

I made these bars two different ways, each with a different crust. The end results were both good for different reasons. The first is a flakey, coconut flour pie crust. The second is made from nuts, chocolate and butter. That’s not a bad thing.

Here’s what you will need . . .

1 CAN of FULL fat coconut milk

Honey (I used a tablespoon)

Vanilla (I used a big splash)

Pie crust ingredients (scroll down)

You can layer with whatever you want. Pick the mood. Here’s what I used . . .

2 Cups of Semi Sweet Chips

1 Cup of White Chocolate Chips

A handful(s) of Dried Cranberries

A handful of Chopped Almonds

1. Pick your “crust.” It should be enough for an 8×11 pan.

Flour Crust (almond, coconut, cashew etc . . . ) If you are using a nut meal, it should be finely ground. I used this recipe http://healthnutnation.com/2013/10/04/indulge-70-grain-free-desserts/ and really like how it turned out. If you’re wondering whether or not to melt the coconut oil before blending, don’t. Leave it solid. You can also use butter (real butter . . . as in Kerrygold). Note: this crust DOES need to be baked before layering.

Nutty Crust (pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews are a little too rich). I’m estimating I used 2 cups of pecans for this crust. I threw them into a food processor along with a handful of chocolate chips, a handful of white chips and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Blend. Use hands to press into an un-greased pan. You do NOT need to bake this crust before layering. If you wanted to take this crust to the next level, you could add a splash of kahlua before mixing.

2. Make the sweetened, condensed COCONUT milk and preheat your oven to 350.

Following Diane S’s recipe, I threw one can of coconut milk (fat and liquid) into a sauce pan. Added vanilla and honey. Whisked every few minutes so it didn’t burn. I found that 30 minutes worked well. I was a little worry it wasn’t thick enough but once I removed it from the heat and let it rest, it thickened up plenty. If you are using a flour crust, this is a great time to be baking it.

3. Layer.

I grabbed another handful of whole almonds, gave them a chop and dumped them onto the crust(s). Generously dumped chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. Sprinkled dried cranberries. Poured sweetened condensed coconut milk over bars. Baked for 30 minutes. Allowed to COOL before cutting and serving. Seriously, let them cool. I stuck mine in the freezer because I was pressed for time. Enjoy!

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