Part 2 of the 'Healthy Meal deal Trilogy'
Now you might be finding yourself asking the question, “How can you make a Twix healthy?… and come to think of it, why would anyone want to do that in the first place?”
If you belong to this particular camp, read no further. If, however, you are someone who loves to eat all forms of delicious stuff but would love to find slightly more nutrient filled and healthy versions, (without losing out on taste), then this one’s for you.
Of course, those of you belonging to the first camp do have a point. There is for sure a case for keeping some things as they are. The classic pizza is one such item that comes to mind. I have also been guilty of trying to make it with a cauliflower, almond meal and egg white crust (to the horror of my beloved). And while it’s kind of ‘okay’ it’s not, in the end of the day a pizza by any stretch of the imagination. You’d also be pretty mad to try and recreate a sumptuous pavlova from the left over beanie water from your tin of chickpeas ( can be done... can be done - but the question does beg - why?).
And how many of you have been fed ‘healthy cakes’ by well meaning friends at people-who-do-yoga-and-those-kinds-of-things parties that tasted of cardboard and… ( well, actually… they only tasted of cardboard)? Yes, we’ve all been there…sigh…
However, trust me on this one! It’s even more delicious than the original and I’m proof in example. I happened to buy myself a normal candy bar at the garage just last week to get me home after a slightly longer than planned walk. I was looking forward to taking that first bite… but was oh so shocked to discover that it didn’t taste anywhere near as good as my home ones!
So, onto the good stuff.
I’ve no idea who first came up with the idea of making a such a thing. Recipes are available far and wide in the blog-o-sphere. However, my money would go on the wonderful Sarah B over at ‘My New Roots’ for being the originator - go check out her amazing blog if you haven’t done already.
I’ve tried out quite a few of the versions over the last year - and the recipe below is my own personal take on the whole ‘healthy candy bar’ thing.
The absolute star of this story is the humble date.
To be honest, I’ve been wanting to do a blog post on this amazing fruit for like ever. It’s multiple uses in baking have totally changed my way of cooking for ever.
Sticky toffee pudding with absolutely ’no-sugar’ anyone? Raw Banoffee pie’ ? A tasty crust for your cheesecake with no butter in it?
All these and more can be made with this simple brown slightly dry fruity treat.
And by far the most delicious thing that can be made with them is caramel!
It can be made simply by whizzing them up with a pinch of salt and a little vanilla.
Some people also add orange.
However, the version I love the most is a combination of dates and nut butter ( almond and hazelnut are top on my list) and that’s what’s going to form the sticky layer of our candy bar here.
Now, the biscuit part also has to be made and again, there are quite a versions out there.
Sarah B (whose recipes I totally trust) makes her’s with coconut flour, flax and apple sauce.
It’s nice, but I found it a little too coco-nutty for my tastes.
Other versions make the base from oat flour but I found the biscuit tasted too “oaty” and it was a little too hard.
After quite a bit of experimentation I came up with what is for me, the perfect combination - a biscuit which simply tastes of biscuit. Isn’t too soft or too hard - it simply does it’s job of holding all that delicious caramel safely.
Finally, a word on the chocolate covering. Keeping the whole thing ‘sugar free’ and vegan means here I’ve used a mixture of melted cocoa butter and cocoa powder.
Now, I will admit that this is for sure a more grown up tasting chocolate cover than your milk chocolate twix cover.
If you are someone who really hates dark over 70% chocolate but still wants to give this a go, you could try covering them with a good quality mild chocolate and see how it works. I did try adding coconut milk to the chocolate covering recipe below which made it taste, smooth and sweet and generally 'less-serious'... but was so amazingly sticky and melted totally on the touch that it wasn't really a viable alternative. Especially, given you want to carry this in your pocket or lunch box as you would a normal 'snack'.
So... for the moment, I’m sticking to the dark side.
A few little notes here - it’s going to be messy, okay?
The best way to avoid getting chocolate everywhere I’ve found is to lay out a baking tray, cover it with a parchment paper then put a cooling tray on top of that. All the chocolate dribbles will collect under and save you a bit of time on the cleaning up.
But it’s still quite a messy business - so just relax and you know, enjoy the chaos!
The trick to success in this part of the process is making sure your date and biscuit fingers are straight out of the freezer and still ice cold.
When you dip them in the chocolate liquid, you’ll find it sets very quickly and also parts of the fingers won’t fall off when in contact with the heat.
Any left over chocolate can be drizzled on the top for a pretty effect.
After the chocolate cover has set ( usually around 10 mins) they are ready to be put back in the freezer for another day.
My particular favorite way of including them in my day is whenever I’m going out for a walk, I take one out, wrap it still frozen… and then by the time I reach the top of the hill / goat farm / favorite park bench, it’s nicely thawed out and ready to be eaten. :-)
This particular project IS a little time consuming, messy and sticky( we are after all working with dates here!)… but trust me it’s totally worth your time and effort!
So, healthy candy bar - here we come!
INGREDIENTS (for 8 generous sized picnic bars)
FOR THE BISCUIT
- 60 grams finely ground oats or oat flour
- 40 grams coconut flour
- 10 ml melted coconut oil
- generous pinch of salt
- 50 ml maple syrup
FOR THE CARAMEL FILLING
- 240 grams stone-less dates ( the softer the better - medjool are especially wonderful)
- 60 ml nut butter ( my personal favorite is hazelnut but I've had good results with almond, too)
- tiny drop of vanilla essence
- salt to taste
FOR THE CHOCOLATE COVERING
- 100 grams cocoa butter
- 60 grams cocoa powder
- 8 tablespoons maple syrup
FOR THE BISCUIT
- put the oven on at 180 degrees C
- mix all the biscuit ingredients together until they come together in a smooth dough
- either create 8 biscuits in a ready made form ( see photo below) or simply flatten out the mixture in a brownie tin (you can cut the fingers to shape later)
- make sure to push down into the corners
- bake for 10 - 14 minutes until just turning golden
FOR THE CARAMEL FILLING
- put all ingredients in a mixer ( vitamix etc fantastic for this kind of thing)
- whir until you have a smooth cream
- check for salt
- shape the caramel on top of your individual biscuits or simply spread on top of your large base.
- freeze for around 5 hours until solid
- remove from form or cut into finger shapes if doing it the brownie tin way.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE COVERING
- have your frozen biscuit fingers ready
- also, prepare your work place - it's going to be messy
- on a bain marie ( gently cooking water under, pot on top)... melt your cocoa butter
- remove from heat and whisk in your cocoa powder and maple syrup.
- dip each finger in making sure it's covered completely.
- place on cooling tray and allow to drip
- once done, freeze fingers again - unless of course you want to eat them all at once :-)
So, that's it for another post folks! I'll be back again with part 3 and the 'sweet potato toast' I was talking about in post 1.
Enjoy the start of this new year!