When I was much younger, my mother would stock up our kitchen with all kinds of snacks – her special homemade pineapple tarts; unopened packets of Oreo cookies; and in particular, energy bars.
I’d always loved the idea of individual energy bars that you could bring to school or work or just wherever you needed to be – and like an extra cell phone battery, these energy bars always came in handy.
Depending on where my mother had gotten the week’s grocery shopping done, there would be different types of energy bars – some days there were fruit bars; other days nut bars; and on the special occasion, there were chocolate bars.
Amongst all the different types my mother brought home, the kind I loved the most were those that were full of nuts; I loved the sensation of biting into a crunchy bar – it made me feel like I was eating a powerful snack and that nothing could bring me down. I also had a soft spot for the chocolate ones, and on those occasions that my mother brought them home, I’d eat them as soon as I could.
This year, I decided that I wanted to recreate those memories and create my own energy bars – with the powerful combination of both nuts and chocolate.
If you’ve never made energy bars before, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make these – especially since they pack so much punch! You don’t even need to bake them like you would have to with granola bars – all you need are the ingredients and a reliable food processor or blender.
You begin with pitting and chopping some dates into small pieces, then blending pitted dates in the processor until you get a thick paste, then add in vanilla extract and pulse a couple of times. Slowly add in water one teaspoon at a time until the mixture is soft and pureed – make sure the paste is thick but also soft enough for you to be able to mix in the other ingredients.
At this point, you can roughly chop the pecans and reserve them aside. Now grab a large bowl, and start mixing the chopped pecans and shredded unsweetened coconut together, then fold in the date mixture from the processor until well-combined – this is the coconut pecan topping.
In the same food processor, add in the walnuts (or any combination of hard nuts that you fancy), and pulse until roughly chopped. Throw in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and pulse until well combined. Add in dates one at a time until all the ingredients are well integrated, and add water one tablespoon at a time until you have a thick batter – this is the brownie base.
Line a pan with baking paper, then press the brownie base down evenly with the back of a wet spoon. Following that, press the coconut pecan topping on top of the brownie base.
Now all that’s left to do is to let it chill for an hour before slicing into energy bars! Enjoy!
Energy bars – with the powerful combination of both nuts and chocolate.
- FOR THE COCONUT PECAN TOPPING
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- 15 large dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of water (if too dry, add a little more)
- FOR THE BROWNIE BASE
- 2 cups of walnuts (or any combination of hard nuts)
- ¾ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 15 large dates, pitted
- 3 tablespoons of water (if too dry, add a little more)
- Add 15 chopped and pitted dates to the food processor or a blender and blend for a minute until the dates form a thick paste.
- Add in the pure vanilla extract and pulse a few times.
- Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until the mixture is soft and pureed. If necessary, add a little more water (you want the paste to be thick but also soft enough to mix in other ingredients).
- In a separate bowl, mix the chopped pecans and shredded unsweetened coconut, then fold in the date mixture from the processor until well-combined. Set aside this coconut pecan topping.
- In the same food processor, add the walnuts (or combination of hard nuts) and pulse until chopped.
- Add the cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract and salt, and pulse until combined.
- With the processor running, add in the dates one at a time until well integrated. (The mixture should stay together when you press it between your fingers.)
- Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until you have a thick batter. If necessary, add a little more water. This is the brownie base mixture.
- Line a square pan with parchment paper and then press the brownie base mixture evenly to cover the entire surface (using the back of a wet spoon helps!).
- Once the brownie base is in place, press the chocolate coconut topping mixture on top of the brownie mixture.
- Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before cutting.
- Cut into rectangle bars (or squares) and serve.
Makes 12 Bars