Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Today’s recipe had quite the evolution. The initial idea was to make a no-bake bar, but then my hubby said the creation needed more chocolate. My mind wandered to chocolate bark as a topping, with a nod to Mediterranean flavors. What started out as a recipe with few ingredients morphed into a multi-step concoction. When I explained what I was about to construct, hubby’s response was that it didn’t sound simple. I said no-bake, I didn’t say simple …

The experiment began with a raw bar recipe. The changes I made were just from my imagination. I reduced the amount of tahini because the original crust was too oily. I added more chocolate to keep hubby happy. The additional ingredients borrowed loosely from baklava while adding a cardamom syrup for depth. The result was a delicious burst of flavor.

Apricot Nut Bars based on No-Bake Cashew Tahini Bars

1.5 cups raw cashews
1 cup soft, pitted dates, tightly packed
1/3 cup tahini
4.5 ounces vegan dark chocolate, divided
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
2 TBS Cardamom Syrup (recipe to follow)

Line an 8” square baking pan with 2 overlapping strips of parchment paper and set aside. Add cashews to a food processor and pulse until mostly broken down. Add dates and tahini and mix until it just comes together. With your hands, press the dough into the prepared pan and smooth it out.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to spread most of the chocolate over the bars. Sprinkle the apricots over the bars, then add the pistachios on top. Drizzle first the cardamom syrup and then the remaining chocolate over the top of the bars. Place in freezer for an hour. Lift out of the pan by the parchment sling, place on a cutting board, and cut into squares.

cardamom seeds for syrup

cardamom seeds for the syrup

Cardamom Syrup adapted from Spiced Simple Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously until sugar dissolves. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in cardamom seeds. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store leftovers in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. You will have extra — I use mine to sweeten tea.

Happy non-baking!

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Spiced Tahini Cookies

spiced tahini cookiesRose is my all-time favorite scent. Walking in to a rose garden puts a relaxed smile on my face that lasts for hours. When I saw a cookie recipe that included (gasp!) rosewater, I knew I had to try it. The recipe also included cardamom, another fave of mine, so it had to be good.

The cookies were already vegan and didn’t need adaptation for high altitude, so I had that covered. I did add ginger to give them some zing, and decorated them with sesame seeds for looks and texture. They have a low-glycemic sugar, healthy fats, and lots of calcium making them good for you. So go ahead, have another.

Spiced Tahini Cookies adapted from Cardamom Rose Tahini Cookies
1/4 cup + 2 TBS coconut sugar
1/4 cup + 2 TBS almond flour
1.25 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup + 2 TBS tahini
1 TBS + 1/2 tsp rosewater
1 TBS sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place coconut sugar, almond flour, cardamom powder, and ginger powder in a bowl and whisk. Add tahini and rosewater and mix well. Form batter into walnut-sized balls. Place cookie balls on prepared baking sheet. Gently press down until they form thick discs. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until slightly brown. Wait until cooled to remove from the baking sheet. Makes 16-18 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Surprisingly Good Tahini Oat Cookies

Tahini Oat CookiesThis recipe comes from dubious beginnings – I was just looking for a way to use up extra oats I had ground. I was skeptical about these cookies because although I have been trying to bake healthier, these seemed too healthy. What emerged from my oven was a pleasant surprise. They taste a bit like peanut butter cookies but are more complex and with a hint of caramel. Even my chocoholic husband went back for more.

The cookies were already vegan, so the high altitude changes I made were adding flour and reducing baking powder. I also added milk for a moisture boost. They can easily be made nut-free depending on the type of non-dairy milk chosen.

Surprisingly Good Tahini Oat Cookies adapted from the Whole Foods blog
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup + 1 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
2 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 TBS sesame seeds
1/2 tsp non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Grind oats in a blender until coarsely ground. Place in a bowl and whisk together with flour, baking powder and salt. Combine maple syrup, tahini, sesame oil, arrowroot and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir tahini mixture into oat mixture.
Spread sesame seeds onto a large plate. Form small balls of dough with your hands and roll the balls on the plate to coat with seeds. Tap to release excess seeds. Arrange dough on prepared baking sheets 2” apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown on bottom and puffed, 13-14 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!