Orange-Almond Spice Cookie Bars

IMG_0908by Karen Frazier

I have always been a baker. Puttering around in the kitchen baking stuff is one of my favorite ways to while away an autumn weekend afternoon while Jim watches football. With the celiac disease and my low-carb, paleo diet, however, I stopped engaging in that love. It’s only been recently that I’ve started tinkering with baking once again.

This recipe came to me in a flash of inspiration a few days ago, and I decided last night to give it a try. I was worried about lots of things – tweaking ratios, etc., but the cookies came out really well on the first try. Feel free to mess around with the flavor profiles. I love the way the orange, spice, almond, and chocolate blend in this tasty recipe.

The cookies are paleo-ish – the erythritol in the sweetener renders them not quite paleo; however, if you aren’t baking low-carb, you can replace the sweetener with coconut sugar. It will raise the carb count, but keep the cookies paleo. So it’s a matter of blood sugar vs. staying totally paleo.

Orange-Almond Spice Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup Swerve Sweetener or Truvia (for low-carb) or coconut sugar (for paleo)
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups almond meal flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
  • Liquid stevia, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, mix one cup of the coconut oil with the Swerve or Truvia, almond extract, orange zest, and Chinese Five Spice powder until well blended.
  3. Stir in the eggs, beating until well-combined.
  4. Stir in the almond flour and the sea salt, mixing until well combined.
  5. Spread the dough evenly in the prepared baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies brown slightly around the edges (the top won’t brown), and the dough doesn’t have much give on the top, about 30 minutes. Cool for ten minutes.
  6. Lift the cookies out of the pan by lifting the parchment. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining two tablespoons of coconut oil and the chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly, on low heat until the chocolate melts. Stir in the stevia a few drops at a time until you achieve the desired sweetness. The cookies are quite sweet, so I made my chocolate only lightly sweet to serve as a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the cookies.
  8. Spread the chocolate in a very thin layer (or drizzle it artistically) on the cookies. Allow the chocolate to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to harden the chocolate slightly. Then, cut the cookies into small bars and transfer them to plates. Refrigerate to completely harden the chocolate.

Since I don’t eat a lot of sweet stuff, I’m keeping these cookies in the freezer, at the ready for when I need a sweet treat, or when I just want a taste of something completely different.

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