Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dark Chocolate Dipped Crunchy Coconut Cashew Sesame Bars

Hmmmm, new name maybe?  "Dark Chocolate Dipped Crunchy Coconut Cashew Sesame Bars"...that's quite the mouthful, but so are these bars, soooo maybe it's a fitting name after all?!
I made these bars when I got home from our recent Caribbean cruise, and was trying to wean my sweet tooth off the buffet.  If you haven't been on a cruise before, the food alone is worth the vacation. For real.
You get seating every evening in a fancy restaurant, but Cory's idea of a vacation is not having to put on socks or shoes for a week.  It was the middle of January - I get it, Flop on, Bro!   My idea of a vacation, is not having to cook or clean or nag at children.  Also high on that list is getting to read as much as I want, especially if I get to read whilst bathing in the warmth of the sun.

We compromised on one formal night with suits (and socks & shoes!) at the fancy restaurant, and every other night we could hit the buffet.  Which in the end, was not that much of a concession for me, as the buffet was always outstanding.  I managed to eat really healthy for the most part.  But the dessert buffet?  Oh. Man.  I had at least one bite of each different kind of cake, I mean, how could you not?!  However, I didn't just eat and be guilt free, I ran at least 5 Kms each day, to allow myself this indulgence.  Worth it.

These heavily seeded roasty-toasty bars, are full of so much good stuff, they are practically guilt-free. You get healthy fats, protein, and mega-crunch from the cashews, chia, hemp, and sesame seeds, accompanied by the slight sweetness of the coconut and chocolate, with just a hint of cinnamon in the mix.
Warning!  A good teeth-brushing should follow consumption!
Dark Chocolate Dipped Crunchy Coconut Cashew Sesame Bars
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cups coconut flakes
3 Tablespoons white sesame seeds
3 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
1/2 cup ground flax
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
3 Tablespoons hemp hearts
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1 + 1 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 cup (approx) 72 % Dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment,leaving overhang on all sides, and set aside.
Toast cashews, coconut, sesame seeds, flax meal and hemp seeds in separate areas on a large rimmed baking sheet, stirring occasionally (taking care to not mixing the seeds and nuts), until golden brown, about 8-12 minutes.  **The coconut toasted ALLOT faster than other ingredients, I removed it from the pan after about 8 minutes, and continued toasting other ingredients**.
Let nuts and seeds cool slightly and measure out 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, and 1 tablespoon hemp hearts. Set these seeds aside to top the bars with.
Add the cashews, the coconut and the remaining sesame, flax meal, and hemp hearts plus the salt to a food processor or high powdered blender. Process until finely chopped.
Using a medium saucepan, bring maple syrup (or honey) and the 1 Tablespoon coconut oil to a boil. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Finally, add the cashew/seed mixture and stir to coat.
Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan, using wet hands if necessary. Top the bars with the reserved seeds from earlier, and gently press to adhere.
Bake until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Let cool, then remove from pan (keep the parchment in there!), and cut into the bars.
Melt the chocolate in a double broiler, or microwave, adding the extra 1 Tablespoon coconut oil if needed for a thinner chocolate.
Pour about 3/4 of the melted chocolate back into the parchment lined pan. Use the cooled bars, to help spread out the chocolate as you add them back in, bathing their bottom in the chocolate as you go. Use the remaining melted chocolate to drizzle over the top. Allow the chocolate to harden in the fridge or freezer, before breaking or cutting apart to serve.


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