Late Night Recipe Testing

I was wearing my winter coat, hat, boots and gloves on Tuesday, April 30th in N.Y.C when I took sweet Chloe for her walks. If you follow me on Facebook: Fran Costigan Vegan Pastry Chef, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest @goodcakesfran, you’ve met Chloe, the shitzu mix who lives full-time with my daughter and her family in a house with a yard. Tracy adopted Chloe ten years ago. I fell in love with the nervous little puppy the first time we met. We’ve watched her learn to trust and play, and now as ten year old(ish) dog, she still looks like a puppy. This year Tracy and I decided to try co-parenting her, so she spends time in the city as well as the country. 
For me, she is a true blessing. Chloe does not like to go out in the rain or cold, so this never-ending winter has been a challenge. Luckily, my building is completely covered by construction scaffolding so we didn’t get soaked these last few rainy days.

Chloe dog in Yardley
Chloe at her country house

Tuesday night, when Chloe and I came in from what was meant to be the last walk of the day, I decided to spend a quick ten minutes inventorying ingredients on the bottom shelf of one cabinet only. It was late but I was eager to do one more thing to move my spring inventory/organizing along.

 What happened next reminded me of my year of obsessive thinking about recipes, which was, of course, the year I spent writing Vegan Chocolate. Ideas would pop into my mind that I just had-to-try-right-now- no matter the time or what else I was meant to be doing. Mostly I stick to a schedule, or nothing would get finished, but this Tuesday night, when I saw the jar of Nutiva Coconut Manna, aka coconut butter that I rarely use, I just couldn’t stop myself from making something right now, even though I had no recipe or even category in mind. Out of the refrigerator came jars of raw almonds, organic rolled oats, and already toasted coconut. I still had no idea what I was after but I couldn’t wait for morning.

Pantry Staples
Ready to recipe test

I did make myself grab my notebook and list the ingredients:  coconut butter, oats, whole raw almonds, shredded coconut, coconut sugar and liquid sweetener  (I opted for agave and rice syrup.) That’s when I “saw” bars or bites.

Making the recipe took 5 minutes. Really that’s all. I didn’t measure the finished mixture, which is something I always do. It  pressed easily  into a neat rectangle, about 7×4 x 1-inch on a piece of parchment.  A sprinkling of chia seeds on a portion of the top, just to see, was the last step.  

Oat and Nut Bar
Oat, Almond, Coconut Slab

The texture was soft and the taste delicious. Wondering if the bar would firm in the refrigerator, or remain soft, be chewy or too hard, I washed the pot, spatula and measuring cups, and entered what I did into a word doc. The bar went into the refrigerator, and I set a timer  for 30 minutes. Chloe and I went out again.

Thirty minutes later, the mixture was still too soft to cut cleanly, although the end piece I ate had almost the right texture. I went to bed. Chloe was already asleep.

In the morning, before I took Chloe out, I pulled the bar from the refrigerator, and took a heavy sharp knife off the magnetic strip. The bar was too hard to cut without shattering. I wasn’t going to risk my teeth to test the chew factor. While I waited to see if letting the bar return to room temperature would make a difference, I answered emails, and posted pictures of the uncut slab on facebook.

In an hour’s time, the bar cut easily and the little squares had that perfect chewy, not sticky, and crunchy from nuts thing going. I cut freehand, into pieces about 3/4-inch without noting how many- another recipe testing no-no. I liked the chia topping. (I did figure the yield today by drawing the measurement of the bar on a piece of paper.)

This confection is seriously delicious. I will make this again. I’m hoping you will make the recipe and let me know what you think. I can see some variations, although these have not been tested. For example, I might swap in maple syrup for the agave, perhaps cut the coconut sugar to 1/3 or so cup, mix in a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds, and add a small amount of cinnamon powder, for taste and health promoting properties. It won’t surprise many of you to know that I think a coating melted chocolate, or  adding some chocolate chunks is a good idea for another time too.

Cutting the oat, almond, coconut bars
Cutting the slab into small squares & my breakfast Kale Berry Smoothie

No-Bake Oat, Almond, Coconut Confection

Yield: 30 to 36 3/4-inch pieces

  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweeteend shredded coconut
  • 2-3 tablespoons chia seeds, optional for top but recommended

In a medium heavy bottom saucepan, cook the coconut butter, agave and rice syrups and coconut sugar until everything has melted and bubbles are just starting to appear around the sides of the pan. Stir with a heatproof silicon spatula. You may need to press on the coconut butter to help it melt. Do not touch the syrup; it’s hotter than it looks.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until the dry ingredients are coated.

Line a quarter sheet pan or similar with a piece of parchment paper. (Don’t use plastic wrap- the mixture is hot.) Turn the mixture out onto the center of the parchment, and fold the paper over the top. Press into a slab, about 7 x4 x1-inch. (It’s easy to shape). Sprinkle the top with the optional chia seeds. 

Refrigerate until  firm enough to cut. I think this will take about an hour, but it might be longer. If the bar is refrigerated overnight, wait until it has returned to room temperature before cutting into squares with a heavy sharp knife.

Store in a container at room temperature for a couple of days.

The smoothie on the cutting board was my breakfast on Wednesday, a kale, pineapple, blueberry, hemp smoothie made in my Vitamix 5200. It’s all about balance! I use my Vitamix everyday! It’s a real game changer. Pricy but worth it. i

Buy the books here. 

Fran Costigan’s Vegan Chocolate is the holy grail of sweet, plant-based treats! This cookbook is destined to be a treasured baking classic for all kitchens.” —Kris Carr, New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Vegan Chocolate book
Vegan Chocolate book


Delicious, Reliable, and Adaptable Recipes, Plus a Virtual Vegan Baking ClassThe Costigan Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive® is based on this book.

More Great Good Dairy-Free Dessets Naturally
More Great Good Dairy-Free Dessets Naturally


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