I have a number of friends who are gluten-free, in addition to a lot who practice a paleo-type diet. And so although many of my clients (and some of my friends) love the recipes I post for things such as coffee cake, scones, and cheese straws, I always feel challenged to come up with recipes to please my friends with special diets.
Here’s a recipe for a great, gluten-free, vegan-optional, no-bake cookie that people love even if they don’t follow any of those dietary restrictions.
No-Bake Walnut Cookie Oat Bars
Makes an 8-inch-square pan of bars or 12 2-ounce cookies
2 cups raw walnuts
¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats
¼ cup ground flax meal
¼ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
¼ cup raw honey or brown rice syrup
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 + 1/16 teaspoon almond extract
Note: The almond extract really helps give these a cookie-like flavor, but be careful not to add more than the recipe calls for, as it is a strong flavor.
The dough should easily stick together when pressed between your fingers. The longer you process the mixture, the oilier it will become.
There are two methods you can follow for forming the cookies. The original way is to line an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper, and place the dough inside. Press out the dough firmly with your hands until you have evenly filled the pan, then place another sheet of parchment paper on top and smooth out the surface with your hands.
Freeze the pan for about 30 minutes, then remove the parchment paper from the pan, and cut the dough into 2-inch-by-2-inch bars. Keep the bars individually wrapped in plastic wrap and store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3–4 weeks.
The other option (which is what these photos show) is to form the dough into balls (any size works, I used a 2-ounce scoop to make mine) and then flatten each one into a circular cookie shape. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and freeze as instructed above.
Tina’s Tips: I like a heartier, crunchier texture that is less oily, so I process on the shorter side. The photos in this post show what they look like if you process for about 1 minute.
If your dough has become too oily, stir in a little more shredded coconut or partially ground rolled oats to thicken it.
Do not wrap the bars in foil.
I have another variation on this recipe that doesn’t include the oats, and I’ll post that at another time.