I had a different flavor combination in mind for the apple-goji energy bars I shared with you a few weeks ago, and it came together even better than I’d hoped. This version is not as quirky, tart, or spicy as the goji/ginger ones, and I like it much more. Replacing the cinnamon with vanilla makes an incredible difference. These have a smoother, gentler, vanilla-y taste, and also involve tahini, honey, apple, dates, and a touch of orange zest. Next time I will use more zest, though; it doesn’t stand out in the recipe below even after letting the flavors come together in the fridge for several days.
These bars work well as a component of a quick, easy breakfast or lunch, or as a filling snack. They are dense, soft, and chewy. My understanding is that coconut oil is processed by our bodies as energy instead of being stored as fat, so it makes sense in a easy-to-grab food to keep you going like these. If you’re worried about tasting the beans, I truly think their presence is hidden very well in these bars. If you didn’t tell someone they were in here, I doubt they would figure it out on their own. Unless they have some kind of bean-tasting superpower. :)
Chickpea Tahini Vanilla Energy Bars
(Adapted from Have Cake, Will Travel)
1 heaping Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1/4 cup apple juice, warmed
2 and 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas (drain and rinse if using canned)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, divided
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
3 tsp. orange zest (approximately 1 medium-large orange)
1 and 1/2 cups oats (quick-cooking are preferred in the original recipe, but regular have worked fine for me)
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
5 dried dates, chopped into little pieces
1 medium-sized apple, diced
pinch of finely ground sea salt (optional if your beans are already salted)
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Stir together the flaxseed and warm apple juice, and set it aside.
3. Toss the chickpeas with the sugar and 1 tsp. of the vanilla extract until the sugar and vanilla are evenly distributed. Put the beans in an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake for 16 minutes, stirring them well after the first 8 minutes.
4. Add the tahini, honey, coconut oil, orange zest, other teaspoon of vanilla, and salt (if using) to the flaxseed mixture. Stir until well-combined.
5. When the chickpeas have finished baking, mash them with a potato masher. They do not have to be perfectly uniform mush, but you do want to break up all the whole beans, and turn most of them them into small, soft, flaky pieces similar to the texture of cookie dough.
6. In a big mixing bowl, stir together the chickpea mush, puffed rice cereal, oats, and fruit.
7. Add the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl, and stir until everything is evenly combined. Taste, and add more salt, honey, or orange zest if you’d like.
8. Give your chickpea baking dish a bit of a cleaning with a paper towel, and line it with parchment or wax paper. Pour the mixture in, and use another piece of parchment or wax paper to press it down evenly into a dense square.
9. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing. Store in the fridge. Will keep one week.
Makes 12 big, thick bars, or at least 24 smaller squares. You may want to halve the batch, or find a friend to help you eat them!