By Riki Shore
While I love to eat freshly made hot meals, the truth is, sometimes I need a snack on-the-go. Our lives, like everyone else’s, are busy and fully lived. A mid-afternoon pick-up that’s packed with protein and healthy fats is an invaluable recipe to have.
This recipe is inspired by Elana Amsterdam’s Power Bars, posted on her blog Elana’s Pantry several years ago. I’ve toasted the coconut and added some almond extract to pump up the flavor, and I recommend processing the almond mixture until it’s completely smooth. Mine are also sweetened with Muscovado sugar instead of stevia and honey. Honey is high in fructose and I like to watch my fructose intake – too much of it leads to inflammation in the gut.
Rather than coating the bars with a layer of semisweet chocolate, I drizzle them with bittersweet chocolate. This adds a contrasting flavor and texture, and it boosts the anti-oxidant qualities of the bars without adding more sugar. These bars are not overwhelmingly sweet – they are nutty, delicious and nutritious.
A note about portability: store these bars in the refrigerator. If you live in a warm climate like I do, don’t stuff one of these in the bottom of your bag and plan to eat it four hours later. It’ll be a smushy mess – the almond butter, coconut oil and chocolate all get too soft when they warm up. They should be eaten within 15 – 20 minutes after taking them out of the fridge.
Line an 8 x 8″ baking pan with waxed paper or parchment, leaving a 2″ overhang on each side. Set aside.
1/2 cup dessicated unsweetened coconut
Toast coconut until golden brown and nutty-smelling, about 7 – 8 minutes, stirring once during cooking. Let cool. Coconut can be toasted a few days in advance. Allow to cool, cover tightly and store at room temperature if not using right away.
Place the toasted coconut in a bowl of a food processor with:
2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 cup crunchy almond butter
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Process until smooth, about 45 seconds.
Heat in a small saucepan over low heat:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Muscovado sugar
Stir gently to melt the oil. Add:
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Stir to combine, then remove from the heat. Add the melted oil mixture to the food processor and process briefly to a smooth paste. Press this mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a small silicone spatula until completely smooth. Refrigerate 1 hour until set.
Using the waxed paper “wings”, remove the power bars from the pan without cutting them. Set them aside, still resting on the waxed paper, with the waxed paper resting on a heatproof cutting board.
Form a small parchment triangle. Set aside.
Set a heatproof bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Place in the bowl:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 – 99%), chopped
Melt the chocolate gently. When completely melted, carefully pour the chocolate into the parchment triangle, and snip the point with a sharp scissors. Drizzle chocolate all over the power bars, starting and finishing your “sweep” of chocolate outside the edge of the power bars. Place the bars, still on the cutting board, back in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until the chocolate is set. Cut into bars, and enjoy. These bars will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.