This bar is a mish-mash of a couple recipes from one of my many idols/internet crushes: My New Roots. It’s healthy in the way that most things are healthy. In the end its healthy-ness is dependent on how much you eat and also what your specific nutrition requirements are. This is not something I’ll pretend to know anything about. I know some people avoid fat, while some avoid sugars, and others avoid carbs in general. This bar has these things. But it’s made with nice, whole, unprocessed foods. No refined sugars. Also plant-based and gluten free if that’s your deal. All in all, it’s a really great alternative to those sugar-loaded, ultra-processed candy bars that are so delicious and yet so horrible.
Let me start by saying I love the aesthetic of the My New Roots blog overall, which is reason enough for me to peruse it on a regular basis. To sweeten the deal, it turns out most of her recipes are pretty great as well! I’m nowhere close to vegan, but I do love veggies and it’s nice to know there’s somewhere I can go for some plant-focused inspiration. Recently, I came across two recipes that called out to me (screamed, really): matcha granola bars, and the colossal healthy chocolate bar. Based on many sad (sometimes disgusting) experiences in the past, I was naturally skeptical, but the results were pretty impressive overall. Ok — actually one part of the candy bars was still kind of gross but I’m pretty sure that was my bad. The original recipe uses a mix of coconut flour and a few other things to create the cookie base. It also includes a warning that the coconut flour can be a little tricky to get right, especially because of how much liquid it requires…Honestly, things looked OK at first. I started to get an inkling things weren’t quite right when I cut into the finished product and it looked a little crumbly…The second clue was when Royce started coughing and yelling (“sawdust! sawdust!!”). A couple of days later I made some adjustments that seemed to fix the structural issues, but the flavour and texture weren’t quite what I was looking for. I should mention that because of all this, I never took the final step of adding the chocolate coating, so I can’t really comment on the finished product. I should also note that as a rule (bad habit, maybe?), unless we’re doing something pastry-related I don’t tend to follow recipes super precisely.
About a week or two after the sawdust incident I got around to trying out the granola bars. I’d actually “discovered” both recipes on the same day, and they had been on my to-do list for some time. I’ve never put much serious effort into a granola bar recipe. Sometimes I try to wing it based on some leftovers from whatever granola I happen to be making that week. Other times I’ve tried to follow a few, seriously misguided recipes (enter the eew). Probably one reason I don’t try recipes more frequently is that the disappointments usually mean I end up being the only person to (unhappily) eat said “granola bars”, day after day, until they’re finished. This whole process of consuming the product also drags on that much longer because I’m the only one eating them 😦 Anyway, this recipe was good! I will probably make some adjustments over the next couple of rounds, but it seems like a really solid basis to work with!
I eventually came to the conclusion that it might be a good basis to form the base of my healthy candy bar. I’ll end the suspense here: it worked!! Same(ish) basic ingredients, a few adjustments, and I had myself a base for my candy bar. Also I should note that basic substitutions seem to work really well and are probably a nice way to change things up, depending on your taste and budget (hey, nuts are expensive!!).
The recipe for the base and the date caramel (both adapted from My New Roots) are below. Basically, you make the granola, and let it set in the pan (in the freezer to speed things up). Then you add the date caramel, both are best spread with a piece of plastic wrap on top to prevent them from sticking to all the things. Also, if you have a pan the same size I find this is really the best approach to compress things evenly. The date caramel can get a little soft depending on the ambient temperature, so you’re best off to leave these in the freezer for a bit before you cut them. After that, temper some chocolate and dip or drizzle away! Really, based on how many we ate at this point, I think you can stop here. But for the full candy bar effect you kind of need to add the chocolate element. In the original recipe, the bars are covered with raw chocolate. I didn’t do this. Reasons being:
(1) I have access to an enrober (we did end up dipping the first batch by hand anyway)
(2) I’m not on a raw diet
(3) Yes, I’ve heard that raw cocoa is super good for you or something. But these bars are already pretty dang healthy. Let’s not push it!
(4) You can still go the healthy route if you’re using a high % chocolate, we used an 80% dark so the resulting healthy value is still not too shabby!
(5) Honestly, I don’t like the idea of chocolate that you have to keep refrigerated. It’s kind of just like un-tempered chocolate. Which is gross. And brings back only bad memories of Shoko mishaps.
So here you go. My New Roots’ granola bar and chocolate bar recipes had a baby and it was the best (healthyish) candy bar ever.
2-1/4 cups puffed rice
1/4 cup flax meal
1/8 tsp sea salt
40g brown rice syrup (aka rice malt)
20g maple syrup
60g almond butter (whatever nut butter is fine. Actually, I prefer tahini like the original granola recipe)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Line an 8″ square baking pan with plastic wrap or parchment.
Mix puffed rice and flax meal in a small bowl.
Gently heat remaining ingredients in a small saucepan until melted. Stir to fully combine.
Mix liquid mixture with puffed rice until everything is evenly coated.
Press into pan and let set
My New Roots’ Date Caramel:
325g softened dates
1/3 cup almond (or other nut) butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
Blend everything until smooth. Easy peasy! Note that this can be a little hard on your blender, depending on what you’re working (and the texture of your dates) you might want to soak them in a little bit of hot water first.
Toasted, slivered almonds (I’m betting that hazelnuts or cashews or pistachios would be soooo good but I’m trying to work on my Bulk Barn expenses)
Let these set up for a bit in the fridge or freezer before you try cutting them. And if you’re dipping these in real chocolate you’ll want to let them come to room temperature first so you don’t mess with the temper.