Halfway cookie bars… also known as meringue top brownies… also known as marshmallow top blondies… aka – my new addiction!
June is becoming our family’s unofficial family reunion month.
Last year at this time, we all flew to D.C. for Chelsea’s graduation! Time seriously flies. This month, our family is going to the other coast. Our big brother Ben has just earned his MBA from UCLA! We are so proud of him!
In June, Los Angeles is the best place to celebrate because it’s not humid like the east coast nor swarming with cicadas. Google “cicadas” if you’ve been blessed to not live with them. Ben has been in L.A. now for about the last two years and Holly has been there for almost 10. They pretty much know the best places to eat and best places for dessert. Aka – the best places to celebrate!
With Ben’s graduation AND Father’s Day this month (AND our blogs 2nd birthday!!!), we absolutely need healthier treats around the house so that every night we are together, it isn’t a “let’s go get Sprinkles/Dee Dee Riese/Porto’s/the next amazing delicious dessert you can imagine”. That’s where incredibly yummy bars come in.
Before last week, all I knew about Halfway Cookies came from the many pictures on Pinterest taunting me with what I was missing. With those mouth-watering pictures as a guide, I plunged into my coconut sugar, chocolate and egg whites to remake this dish in a healthier way.
These are healthier, but not a soul would know it! Better yet, I knew they would be something my brother and dad would go nuts over. My first attempt at these are extra gooey and less meringue-y than some versions. My attempted meringue top without sugar didn’t turn out as a traditional meringue. But when I tasted how sweet and gooey and soft and chewy they were, I knew they were definitely not a fail!
I love these bars and I know my family is going to love them too. Chocolate and meringue!? Yes, we loved them! But they are becoming my new project. I’m going to spend more time trying different chocolates, thicker, chewier meringues and a heartier base. I should probably try all kinds of variations, right? These bars are worth the work for that, trust me! Friends, get your taste-testers ready. You’ll be seeing more of more of these decadent bars this summer!
Halfway Bars (dairy-free)
2 cups White Spelt Flour
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/3 cup Soy Free Earth Balance Butter
3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Applesauce
1/3 cup Honey
1 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar, divided
2 Egg Yokes
3 Large Egg Whites
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup Sugar Free Chocolate Chips
Line a glass 9 by 13 baking dish with parchment paper so enough hangs off the sides and you can easily lift the bars out when baked. Spray with cooking spray. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. In another bowl, cream together the butter, applesauce, honey and 1 cup of coconut sugar. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the wet to the dry in 3 batches. Press the dough in the prepared pan. Spread out the 1 cup of chocolate chips over the dough.
Wipe out the bowl that was used for the dry ingredients. Place the 3 egg whites in the bowl and begin whisking the whites. Slowly increase speed to medium speed. When they begin to look very frothy and foam, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut sugar, a little at a time. Continue gradually increasing speed while doing this and whisk until everything is dissolved. The meringue should hold a soft peak. Spread the mixture over the bars.
Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Remove the foil cover and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, lift the parchment paper from the pan to remove the bars from the pan and set in a cool place to allow to cool an another 5 minutes before cutting.
UPDATE: For these bars with that thicker, heartier meringue layer, check out the my revisited healthy halfway bars.