Santa Barbara will always hold a special place in Ashton and my heart. We used to go down there for about 8 weeks a year with our coach and physiotherapist to train when the weather in Eugene was total crap (2 weeks in December and about 6 weeks in March/April), and did this consistently for 4 years. The coolest part… We stayed with a family each time we went, sharing their kitchen and staying in their guest house for all 225 days we spent there.
This family, the Erickson’s, are now considered our family. Not only did they welcome us into their home for Easter and their annual Christmas soup party every year, they also allowed us to have our track friends over for get-togethers, and they spent endless hours around their kitchen table, talking to us, giving us advice, and teaching us so many valuable life and career lessons. (Thank you Don and Tamara, Kaylor and Cole).
And as it turned out, food became a very important thing for all of us. I love to cook, Don loves to cook, Ashton loves to eat, and Tamara loves the traditions of food and how it brings friends and family together. There were many hours spent in the kitchen where Ashton and Don would have competitions of who could make the better “Rice Mosh”, and Tamara would make her famous Cookie Bar that Ashton and I would scarf down in a day (always leaving a miniature piece for Don to eat at the end 🙂
Since Santa Barbara Cookie Bar was such a huge tradition in December when we were training, I thought it would be fitting to recreate a healthier version of Santa Barbara Cookie Bar.
I don’t know about you, but at Christmas in my family, we ALWAYS has “dainties” to eat. First of all, what the heck is with the word “dainty”? Little dessert delicacies that you end up eating WAAAAY too much of because they’re always sitting out on tables, counters, and trays just begging you to gorge yourself on. Ughhh… So little willpower.
So Santa Barbara Cookie Bar is going to be on the dainty tray this year so that I don’t put all of the unhealthy, processed sugar and white flour in my body, because I know myself well enough now to know I won’t be able to resist for the whole holiday season.
Since this recipe uses primarily almond flour as the flour source, the carbohydrates totals are a lot lower than typical cookie recipes. It’s date sweetened and I used only a bit of maple syrup to sweeten the crust, plus it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and paleo (if you use almond butter). Literally the best dainty you can have around the holidays 🙂
So give it a try, let me know how you like it in the comments below, and tag your recipe with #EatonGood on social media.
Santa Barbara Cookie Bar
NUTRITION FACTS (per 1 bar) Calories: 332 Total Fat: 26g Saturated Fat: 10.5g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g Monounsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 130mg Potassium: 24g Total Carbohydrates: 14g Dietary Fiber: 4g Sugars: 5.6g Protein: 8.6g
- for cookie crust:
- 1.5 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 2.5 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- for peanut butter cream:
- 8 dates, soaked*
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1.5 cups fresh ground peanut butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- for topping:
- ¾ cup your favorite chocolate chips
- couple pinches of salt for top
- * to soak dates, place them in a bowl of hot water and allow to soak for at least 1 hour.
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper.
- Step 2 Add all the crust ingredients to a food processor and process until completely combined. It won’t come completely into a ball, but look like wet sand and when you press it between your fingers it should stick together.
- Step 3 Press the dough into the bottom of the pan using your fingers. Use a fork to poke some holes in the crust to prevent it from bubbling as it bakes.
- Step 4 Bake crust for 12 minutes. It’s okay if it doesn’t seem fully cooked. If it gets overcooked it will be really hard and crumbly instead of soft and chewy.
- Step 5 Remove the pan to the counter and allow to cool completely (approx. 30 minutes).
- Step 6 Put the dates and coconut oil in the food processor and process until dates are in small pieces. Add the remainder of the peanut butter layer ingredients and process on high until combined. The mixture should still be thick like peanut butter.
- Step 7 Use a spatula to remove the peanut butter mixture and spread over the crust until smooth. Place in the freezer to harden for 30-45 minutes.
- Step 8 Lastly, melt the chocolate over a double broiler. Spoon the chocolate on top of the slightly hardened peanut butter mixture and smooth. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and place in the fridge to harden.
- Step 9 Cut into 16 equal squares and serve. Store in fridge for 5 days or keep extras in the freezer in an airtight container.