easy carrot cake paleo magic cookie bars taste like carrot cake, except in gluten, grain and dairy free form - complete with frosting! They're a vegan friendly, healthy dessert
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhand to use as a handle one the bars are baked. I like the rub the pan with coconut oil to help the parchment stick.
Place the pecans on a small baking sheet, and the coconut flakes on a separate baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake until golden brown and toasted, about 10-12 minutes for the pecans and 2-4 minutes for the coconut. Coconut burns quickly, so keep an eye on it!
In a LARGE pot (coconut milk rises when heated A LOT) whisk together the coconut milk, honey and pineapple juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently until the sauce reduces to a total of 1 cup, about 18-20 minutes. I recommend checking it at about 16 minutes (you'll need to pour it out the pot into a measuring up) and if you still have over 1 cup, add it back to the pot and cook a few more minutes. It's important to reduce to 1 cup.
While the sauce reduces, in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the coconut oil with the 3 Tbsp of honey until smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and pinch of salt until a wet dough forms.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. This will be a little bit tough, just be patient with it. I found it easiest to use the palms of my hands, and rinse them off every so often, until the dough was pressed in. Do not bake the crust until the sauce finishes reducing, as this allows the sauce the thicken and cool while the crust bakes.
While you wait for the sauce to finish reducing, chop the toasted pecans and set aside.
Additionally, place the grated carrot and and the crushed pineapple into separate kitchen towels and ring out the excess moisture. This is important, or your bars will not set as the water will be released when cooking.
Once the sauce has reduced to one cup, set aside to cool while you bake the crust. Place the ready-to-go crust into the oven and cook for 8 minutes.
When the crust comes out of the oven, it may have risen in some spots. Take a small spoon and gently press it all back down, being sure not to leave cracks in the crust.
Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top, and lightly press them into the crust. Then, sprinkle on the coconut flakes, followed by the grated carrots and then finally the pineapple. Be sure to spread everything out evenly.
Finally, pour the coconut milk sauce evenly over top of everything, making sure you get it down the sides of the bars (but not between the parchment and the pan!) Use a knife to swirl around the layers in a few spots where the sauce pools, to make sure it seeps down into all the layers (don't cut the crust!) Then, gently shake around the pan to ensure the sauce really sinks in everywhere.
Place back into the oven and cook until golden brown and bubbly, about 28-30 minutes. Let cool on the counter to room temperature.
While the bars cook, drain the cashews and place them into a SMALL food processor (mine is 3 cups.) Add in the milk, honey, vanilla and salt and blend, scraping down the sides as necessary, until smooth and creamy. This could take a good 3-4 minutes.
With the food processor running, stream in the coconut oil until well combined. Transfer the frosting to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to firm up.
Once the bars are at room temperature, spread the frosting over top. Cover and chill the bars OVERNIGHT to let everything set. **
The next day, lift the bars out of the pan, slice and DEVOUR!
* The coconut flour I usually use needed 3/4 cup, but I also tried it with a different brand and 66g was only 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. So, PLEASE weigh your flour first before trying to make the crust.
** DO NOT skip the overnight chilling, or your crust won't be firm and the coconut milk sauce won't firm up.
*** Total time does not including chilling overnight!