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This is a Betty Crocker recipe that I discovered years and years ago.  It was one I experimented with and then promptly forgot about.  I don’t know why because this makes a very simple and so versatile dessert.

The recipe I have attached at the bottom of this post is the original recipe but I want to walk you through all the alterations I can think of (some I have tried and some I believe will work just fine).

Let’s start with the reason why I am sharing this post when I am just starting a pantry challenge.  Desserts are always so extravagant.  It’s what we cut when we are in saving mode – money, calories, etc.  However, dessert is what makes life worthwhile.  I’m not about to give up dessert.

This recipe can be super cheap to make – there is no reason why you can’t make this recipe unless you really have a bare pantry.  While the ingredients seem out of reach – they are not.

Let’s start with the flour.  This recipe is designed to work with AP flour.  However, since there is no leavening, any flour can really be used.  You can choose something like coconut or almond without upsetting the flavor of the dessert.  I imagine you can use any flour but I would caution that something like chickpea flour might not taste good. But if you know me at all, I wouldn’t hesitate to try.

On to the butter – you do want a solid fat here but no one says you can’t use margarine (in fact we had great success in the past with nucoa) or coconut oil in place of the butter.  I recently read that shortening makes for a more tender cookie so you could try that as well.  Now you can always experiment with liquid fats such as olive or cooking oil.

Powdered sugar – powdered sugar is nothing more than granulated sugar cut into a powder with a little cornstarch.  I’m not really sure how much the cornstarch alters the sugar but I have had success in grinding sugar into a powder with my blender.  Because there is not a lot of liquid, powdered sugar is used to prevent the crust from having a sandy texture.  You can always try creaming granulated sugar into the butter before adding the flour if you don’t want to make your own powdered sugar.

The cocoa is one thing I wouldn’t substitute.  You can always try for a more “plain” crust and skip the cocoa.

While that is baking, you move on to the “custard” that bakes on top.

Sour cream – for a dairy free version, sub with 3/4 cup of mashed tofu (my notes say a 12.3 oz block of silken tofu but use your own judgement).  Or cream cheese for something more cheesecake like.  Goat cheese or, even, lemon cheese or lebnah should work here as well.  You want it to be a little loose and not overly dry.

Sugar – my assumption is you will have sugar because sugar is fairly cheap when it comes to sweeteners.  If you want to sub, you can try honey or other sweeteners.  I don’t think it would alter the custard too much.

Irish cream liqueur – I don’t keep this in my house.  I’ve used milk or cream and then added irish cream extract or whiskey.  You could add anything to your milk or cream (feel free to use dairy free milks).  This is where the flavor comes from so if you want it to be vanilla or almond, you can easily add those extracts.  I would carefully experiment with fruit flavors because they can curdle your milk which will alter the texture of your custard.

The flour here is used for thickening.  I believe you could swap it for something starchy like cornstarch.

Egg – I made this using Ener-G Egg replacer.  I find it works beautifully for custards.  I’m sure you can use something like tapioca starch or even tapioca to replace that.

As you can see, there are a lot of options.  I, almost, feel like I could make this every week and not make it the same way twice.  Not sure my family would love it as a constant dessert but I really like the nearly pie like quality it has.  As a cookie, it’s not crunchy like most vegan cookies.  It’s tender and just sweet enough.

I’m thinking this crust would be great for other desserts but I haven’t gotten there yet.  This may not be the last time you see this recipe pop up.

Irish Cream Bars
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup irish cream liqueur
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
Heat oven to 350ºF. In medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup flour, nucoa, powdered sugar and cocoa with spoon until soft dough forms. Press in ungreased square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches. Bake 10 minutes.
In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with wire whisk until blended. Pour over baked layer. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool slightly; refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting.