I am absolutely perplexed by these bars. They’re pretty much everything I could ask for. Chewy (almost fudgy, I’d say) with a hint of toasty vanilla flavour and just enough chocolate so you can taste it, but it’s not the main feature. All that and they’re made without any butter or flour. Plus, when compared to your average blondie, they come in with about 1/3 of the sugar without compromising on texture or flavour!
The bars are a riff on that 3-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe that made its way around the internet a few years ago. I added an extra egg and a lil bit of baking powder to the batter and make it less cookie-like and more blondie-like. I also cut back on the sugar and used coconut sugar for its deep toffee flavour.
*Cue sciencey bit*
For this recipe, I was also experimenting with using vitafiber which I got from musclefood.com. It’s a sweet, partially digestion-resistant, carbohydrate, isomaltooligosaccharide (IMO). It has no weird artificial-sweetener aftertaste and is quite mild. I’ve used it a bit in the past but always mixed it in with regular sugar as it doesn’t lend some of the structural/textural properties of sucrose. As I’m a little bit obsessed with how our gut bacteria influence our health (i.e.: I find it so cool. It is cool.), I was also happy to read some research demonstrating IMO as a prebiotic. Food-wise, prebiotics are compounds which feed our beneficial gut bacteria – you find them in things like raw onion, leeks and bananas. There’s been a lot of research recently showing the importance of our gut microbiota in health, so getting prebiotics into your diet is a good thing! Note that prebiotics are different to probiotics: prebiotics feed bacteria/fungi, probiotics ARE bacteria/fungi that are believed to be good for us. Also, as I’m not trying to mug you off, I’d like to point out that research has shown that IMO is partially digested (by our own enzymes) into maltose so, contrary to some advertisements:
- it’s not a completely indigestible fibre (it’s been shown in one study that about 75% is digested and absorbed into your bloodstream)
- it isn’t super low in calories
- it most likely does have an effect on blood sugar levels.
- It’s also not as ‘high in fibre’ as it is sometimes labelled.
*End sciencey bit*
Anywho, if you don’t care about that science stuff, don’t worry. You can leave the vitafibre out! Just eat some more bananas and look after your gut bacteria, guys.
Back to the batter! It relies on cashew butter for fat and bulk which also lends a sweet, buttery flavour. It wouldn’t say it adds any nutty flavour, really, as I find cashew butter to be quite mild so it’s perfect as a neutral base. If you’re into that nuttier flavour though, go for roasted almond butter or peanut butter. As I’m always trying to get coconut into everything I eat, I mixed desiccated coconut into the batter AND put coconut flakes on top. It was a dreeeeaaaam!
– to make them absolutely ‘grain free’ use 1/4 tsp of baking soda instead of the baking powder. Also, as VitaFiber is derived from corn, leave it out.
- 250 g (1 cup) cashew butter (or almond/peanut butter for a nuttier flavour)
- 2 large, , free-range eggs
- 70 g (1/3 cup) coconut sugar
- 4 tbsp VitaFiber powder OR 25g, (2 tbsp) more coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 20 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened, desiccated coconut
- 50 g (2.5 oz) bittersweet chocolate (70%), broken into chunks
- Maldon salt and coconut flakes, , for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oen to 180 C (350 F). Take a roughly 10-inch square of baking paper, crumple it up then un-crumple and use it to line an 8-inch square cake tin.
- Cream together the nut butter, eggs, sugar and vitafiber in a bowl until smooth. Add the vanilla, salt, baking powder and desiccated coconut. Stir together well. Scrape into the lined pan and smooth out in an even layer. Dot with the chunks of chocolate then sprinkle with a touch of Maldon salt and some coconut flakes.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. It won't look like it has browned much but, when poked, the middle should feel at bit squidgy and the edges should feel firm. Leave to cool before slicing into 16 squares.
*musclefood.com sent me a bunch of ingredients which I used to make these bars!