Dates are an essential staple in Middle Eastern homes - super nutritious and versatile to use, and one of my very favorite healthy snacks. Rich and tender Medjool dates, stuffed with some walnuts, are my family’s daily breakfast treat. I wanted to make something a little more sophisticated and I found I had 2 jars of organic almond butter so I began putting healthy ingredients in the processor and came up with this moreish, almost caramel-like treat. The pistachios on one side, and the sesame, and nigella seeds on the other side, are visually appealing and add texture, but can be totally omitted. I also added some milk powder to make them even more of a meal replacement treat, but if you want to go the vegan route then the milk can be left out. Alternatively you can make the paste into balls too and roll the around in the nuts/seeds of your choice. I would also recommend that you keep them in the fridge and separate the bars with parchment paper because they will be a bit sticky.
Prep Level: Easy
Serves: 2-4 people, makes around 16 squares
8-10 Mejdool dates pitted and soaked in a quarter cup of boiling water and ¼ teaspoon baking soda. Cover them and leave the dates to soften for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or raw honey
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¾ cup almond or cashew butter
2 tablespoons full fat dry milk powder (omit if you want them to be vegan)
½ teaspoon orange zest or vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, optional
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional
½ tablespoon nigella seeds, optional (black cumin seeds/habet al barake)
In a small food processor, put half the dates, half the almond butter, half the coconut and half the reserved water. Puree until smooth and put the paste in a bowl. Put the rest of the ingredients and blitz again in the food processor. You will have to scrape the paste in the processor with a spatula and help mix it a bit. Line an 8’ inch square tin with parchment paper and sprinkle/spread the sesame and nigella seeds on the paper. Gently pat down the date paste over the seeds with your hands and spread to make an even layer. Evenly sprinkle the pistachio and pat them down slightly to help them stick. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Cut into squares or small bars. Store in the fridge.