Peanut butter, sour cherry and oat bars

Making decisions for me is one of my biggest bugbears. If someone just handed everything to me without any choice I’m sure it would cause a lot less stress in life. Buuuttt considering I am also quite the control freak, that’s not going to happen. Good mix I have going on there, making life super easy for myself.

Honestly I don’t know what it is about deciding between two things (two if I’m lucky) that’s so difficult. And then if you throw being hungry in there whilst trying to decide what to eat, well that’s the end of the world. Of course I know that next time you can choose the other option, and if the decision you make ends up being the wrong one, that most definitely shouldn’t  = day ruined. But it always does.

One of my biggest problems with decision making comes to choosing a recipe to make. Life before the Internet must have been so much simpler, from your couple of cookbooks you either had the recipe you wanted or you didn’t. No such thing as Pinterest and Google, or the ever expanding ‘whole wall of the kitchen’ shelf of cookbooks that I have at home.

The process is always the same: I get an idea in my head or see something I want to make, then I flick through all my books to find something similar, then an endless scroll through Pinterest to check out other people’s techniques maybe some wacky addition I hadn’t thought of. Then I get confused having spent the last hour or so looking at countless recipes centred around the same idea I no longer know which one to choose. Eventually I choose one, cook it, ends up not working out or not tasting as good as I expected. Obviously I chose the wrong one. End up crying into an under baked mess of cake goo. Fml.

On the very odd occasion I see a recipe and automatically know that I have to make it. There’s no searching around for better options, my minds made up and we’re avin’ it!

This was one of those -extremely rare- occasions. I got an email about a new post from The First Mess. Yes she’s a vegan, but don’t let that turn you away. You will never be asking, ‘where is the meat?’. Expect plant-centric wholefoods, flavour pairings you would never dream of, luscious drinks for a bit of me time, and a few pictures of her dog slipping in there.

I opened the email and read the title no-bake oat bars with sour cherries, hemp and chocolate. *Mental post-it-note*, THAT is what I am baking at the weekend.

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This recipe was for something a bit devilish. Definitely devilishly delicious (that’s hard to say, hard enough to type!). I have a bit of a thing for a good oat bar. Many baked ‘flapjack’ style things have been tested in my kitchen and usually end up dry and cardboardy. Bleugh. So no bake definitely seem the best route to go down and stick with, ooey gooey and utterly moreish. Laura writes how she followed the recipe down to a tee. Now I’ve altered it slightly, as that was what I had in my cupboards, so if you wish go back to the original recipe. Whichever you decide to do, make sure its a quick decision and start devouring these ASAP.

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Hang on..there seems to be something missing

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Someone say a drizzle of chocolate?

Peanut butter, and squidgy dates mixed with toasted oats, seeds, cacao nibs, sour cherries, AND chocolate flecked with sea salt. I’ve got you interested now, even if I hadn’t before.

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On a quick note, this is something that I will go into more detail about another time. Sugar. I am very cautious of how much sugar I put into food, whether it be white caster, honey, maple or from dates it’s all the same to our bodies. Remember these are a treat. Yes they do contain wholesome ingredients, but there’s still quite a lot of sugar from the dates and fat from the peanut butter and dark chocolate, so don’t go thinking you can eat the entire tray . Well you can, but you will feel well and truly stuffed and I’m sure pretty sick, so it’s not the best idea. These little delights are rich and filling, enjoy them with a good cup of tea, share with loved ones or keep in the freezer for a rainy day.

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Peanut butter, sour cherry and chocolate oat bars

Recipe taken from The First Mess, originally from the book Alternative Baker by The Bojon Gourmet.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used a brand called Meridian)
  • 1/2 cup dates (the squidgier the better) soaked in some boiling water for 5-10 minutes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (please not essence)
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 50g dark chocolate (my favourite is Green and Blacks 85%, the darker the better)

Method

  1. Line a 8×8 inch tin (20cm x 20cm) with cling film and set to one side.
  2. Take dates out of their soaking liquid (but reserve the liquid for later) and blend in a food processor until they form a paste. Add the peanut butter, vanilla extract and salt and blend again to form a big sticky clump.
  3. Mix together the oats, seeds, dried cherries and cacao nibs in another bowl then tip all the peanut butter mixture into the bowl.
  4. Now it gets messy. Get your hands in there and squidge it all together until well combined. It should feel sticky, but if it’s on the dry side add some of the reserved soaking water until it’s moist and holding together.
  5. Put into the prepared tin and press down firmly with your hands or a spoon so that the bars are an even thickness all the way across.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over some simmering water, or in the microwave, then drizzle all over the bars, either spreading it out to create an even layer or leaving it ‘informal’ (as Mary Berry would say) as I have here.
  7. Sprinkle with extra cacao nibs and a good sprinkle of sea salt.
  8. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or the freezer for 30 mins if you’re desperate, until firm and the chocolate is set.
  9. Slice into 16 squares and store in the fridge for a couple of weeks or the freezer for a couple of months. But what am I kidding, that’ll be completely unnecessary they will all be gone way before then.

 

I must add, these are dad approved. Now my dad pulls a face at anything I make if he thinks it’s too ‘healthy’. I’m talking about the porridge I make for us all on a Saturday morning. He pulls a face unless its got A LOT of honey added. As he keeps telling me, “I don’t have a sweet tooth”, obviously honey doesn’t count dad. BUT, he loved these bars, I went away from home for only a couple of days and they were all gone. Is that proof enough? I think so.

Happy rainy day (no) baking

X

 

 

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