This week zoomed by with super speed. I didn’t even notice I haven’t been blogging because I definitely had been cooking and busy.
Mid-last week was my lovely co-workers Birthday wherein I attempted a new recipe, late at night, for French toast cupcakes. Although the cupcakes turned out delicious, they were kind of topsy turvy. The cake rose and spilled over the sides because I baked with topped with cereal bits that ended up weighing down their normally perfect texture and shape. I was knew that I had minimal time to construct them plus I needed to transport them to work by bus that icing them at home would be a bad idea. I refrigerated the cinnamon butter cream, having what I thought was a brilliant idea, to scoop the icing out to make it look like butter on top of french toast and then to finish the cakes with drizzled maple syrup. This in my mind would really help the transportation, no in perfect iced sides or smushed tops. Luckily they pretty much looked exactly as how I’d put them together when I arrived which rarely happens.
I really, really need a cupcake carrier.
The look of the cakes was not what I wanted and because of this, I want to post a picture but warn you there won’t be a recipe for them soon. Part of a food blogging and trying until you get the recipe, the visual appearance and the photographs just right. Often that doesn’t happen the first time around so you have to try and try again. I want to perfect the presentation of these cupcakes because they deserve it but here are French toast cupcakes in the making…
So to flip this blog post over to something I can give you a recipe for, I also made these super healthy and delicious cocoa energy bars. Unlike the above cupcakes the shape and presentation of these babies can’t really change because after they are done I like to pop them into the freezer to store up to two weeks. It makes them easier to cut into and handle, wrap and store. When they come to room temperature they are better tasting however because their softer, warmer temperature makes them more browniesque.
Surprise chunks of chewy dates, crunchy cashews and crisp and toasty coconut, just enough chocolate and sweetness to be satisfied, and enough protein and carbs to keep you going until your next meal. I’ve made a few variations of these bars some I have posted (Brownie Flavoured Energy Bars, Granola Protien Bites and Raw Oatmeal Date Cookies) and others I have not due to similarity to the ones I have posted. The big thing to take away here is you need some sort of nut or nut butter, dates, oats and protein powder then tasty add-ins and you have a way better alternative to pre-packaged granola bars and chemical full protein bars. Makes 15 bars.
Cocoa and Toasted Coconut Energy Bars
- 100g about 1 cup of raw cashews soaking for 2 hours
- 1 cup of fresh dates* or 1 + 1/2 cups of dates** pitted
- 1/2 cup of boiling water (may need a bit extra at the end)
- 3 cups of large flake oatmeal, milled down with a food processed
- 1 cup of raw flakes coconut (unsweetened
- 1 + 1/2 tbs of golden flax seed
- 1 tbs chia seeds
- 1/2 cup of hemp protein powder
- 1/3 of dark cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp of espresso powder
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
- 3 tbs agave or maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp of salt
Rinse and soak cashews in enough water to cover them for about 1-2 hours.
In a non-stick pan add coconut to toast. Turn heat to medium and stir frequently, once at least half of the coconut is toasted turn off the heat and remove the coconut to the pan to cool.
In a food processor, grind oatmeal and flax seeds until it’s about the texture of couscous. Add it large mixing bowl with cocoa, hemp powder, chia seeds and salt.
Using the same food processor, mill the toasted coconut and add to the same mixing bowl.
Drain the cashews, add tot he same food processor and blend until you have a a mixture that looks kind of like chunky peanut butter. Set aside.
*In my experience there are two kinds of dates you will come across when shopping. Ones that are fresh, used for snacking most often that still have a lot of liquid left in them. They are the texture of jam inside and usually are found in the produce aisle. I do believe this type of date has more nutritional value however they can be harder to find all year round if you do not live in a city. If you are using what I will refer to as a fresh date, you most likely will not need to add as much water as the recipe calls for and probably can get away with less (about 1 cup worth of) dates. Fresh dates will most likely need to be pitted, by slicing lengthwise down the middle of each one and removing the hard pit. You should also at least quarter these dates to make creating these protein bars easier.
*If you are only able to use the dry dates (as I used in this recipe), they are often found in the baking aisle and come already pitted. They also are available all year in most grocery stores and tend to be cheaper. Due to the fact they have lost most of their moisture, I find you need to re-hydrate them to make use of them in this type of recipe.
I used the second option here in this recipe, dried dates so I reconstituted them in 1/2 cup of boiling water. You will also need to use a spoon to keep pushing the dates under the water as they swell. What happens is that you create a chunky date molasses, that is perfect for sweetening and holding together the energy bars.
Once the dates are ready, add them and the cashews and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and mix as well as you can. Check for sweetness, I found I needed to add a few tablespoons of agave or maple syrup to the mix. If you still find the mixture is too dry add a few tablespoons of warm water until you can just form a dough. It’s important you do not add too much water, or when the bars come to room temperature they will fall apart.
Once you have the texture you want, press all the dough into a prepared glass baking dish. Depending on how thick you want the bars you can use a 9″ x 13″ or 8″x11″.
Cover with plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for a few hours before cutting. Wrap individually after that and take for you mid afternoon sweet craving.