No-Bake Vegan Millionaire Squares (Photo/Faith Kramer)
No-Bake Vegan Millionaire Squares (Photo/Faith Kramer)

No-bake ‘millionaire’ bars are a rich treat for a sweet Simchat Torah

Marking the end of the annual Torah reading cycle, Simchat Torah is one of the most joyous days on the Jewish calendar. Tradition calls for dancing with Torah scrolls and eating festive meals and sweets.

Filled foods are a hallmark of the holiday, which this year will be observed from sunset Oct. 17 to sunset Oct. 18 (in Israel, and in Reform communities, it’s a day earlier).

In pursuit of tasty treats for such a sweet day, I explored a new cookbook that matches the stories of women in the Talmud with recipes. “Feeding Women of the Talmud, Feeding Ourselves: Uplifting the Voices of Talmudic Heroines and Honoring them with Simple, Vegan Recipes” is by Kenden Alfond, a blogger (“Jewish Food Hero”) who also wrote “Beyond Chopped Liver.”

The new book pairs stories about 69 women from the Talmud (written by female rabbis, educators and others) with mostly vegan recipes (gathered from 129 women who are chefs, food bloggers and home cooks from around the globe).

The recipe below — inspired by the story of a rabbi’s daughter — includes a layer of date caramel and is thus perfect for Simchat Torah. The story, which has inspired rabbinic thought on financially independent women, is about how the daughter’s wedding contract stipulates she retain her own possessions and manage her own finances.

The recipe is by Yaël Alfond-Vincent (Alfond’s Paris-based daughter), and my writeup is adapted for style, space and my experience in making it. Note that the cookies need to chill before being served.

No-Bake Vegan Millionaire Squares

Adapted from “Feeding Women of the Talmud”

  • Makes 16 small cookies
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tsp. coconut oil (see notes)
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup almond or peanut butter (see notes)
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 2 dried figs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
  • 12 oz. nondairy semisweet, bittersweet or dark chocolate (see notes)

Line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (8½-by-4½-by-2½ inches) with a large piece of parchment paper so it’s easy to lift out the squares.

Place almond flour, ¼ cup coconut oil, syrup and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until until paste forms (3 to 5 minutes). Press mixture evenly into the bottom of prepared pan. Smooth with a metal spoon. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Once this layer is well chilled, pulse the almond butter, dates, figs, vanilla, lemon juice in the food processor until smooth. Taste and stir in more lemon juice if desired. Evenly spread on top of shortbread with a metal spoon. Wet the back of the spoon with water or additional juice and smooth. Return to fridge for at least 1 hour.

Melt the chocolate: Place chips or broken-up chocolate bars with remaining 1 tsp. coconut oil in small pot over low heat until smooth, stirring occasionally. Pour over the chilled caramel layer, titling the pan so the chocolate spreads evenly. Place pan level in refrigerator overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead.)

Use the paper to lift the millionaire squares out of the pan in one piece. Cut into 16 pieces with sharp knife. Serve at room temperature. Wrap leftovers individually in plastic and store in refrigerator.

Notes: Use solid, room-temperature coconut oil, which will have a strong coconut taste. If that’s an issue, use triple-refined coconut oil or a non-palm oil solid baking shortening. Choose a nut butter without added oil or sugar. Use vegan chocolate that is 54% to 72% cocoa solids. If using chips, 2 cups equals 12 oz.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].