Tahini Crispy Rice Bars
Vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free
Remember snap, crackle and pop? I do to know how many times I watched those little guys on TV, commercials between my cartoons. I remember my babysitter standing over a pot of butter and melted marshmallows, waiting for me to pour in the box of crispy rice cereal. I also remember having my hands (and then everything I touched) covered in sticky marshmallow goo.
While I do love a rice crispy treat, I have not eaten one in a loooooooooong time. Does that mean I don’t like them anymore? Nope. It does mean that I no longer eat many things (aside from my dear frozen yogurt and chocolate bars) that don’t have a lot of nutritional value or ingredients that I can actually pronounce.
I only recently started eating marshmallows again, but only to help with my Ostomy (don’t ask, but they help slow things down so changing the bag is easier). There are certainly vegan marshmallows, but I wanted to make a crispy rice bar that had more flavor and more ingredients I could find in my own kitchen.
Why not try to recreate those chewy bars in the form of a tahini-date-laden treat and topped with chocolate? These are not exactly the same as those chewy bars I remember, but they are certainly delicious. And they have sprinkles so I mean, yes please.
For these bars, I made sure to use the best stuff I could find (including the sprinkles). Let’s talk about the main ingredients.
It’s no secret that I love Soom Foods tahini. This is not at all sponsored; I just love it. I have not always liked tahini, but I am fairly certain that is because I had not had really good tahini. Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds. The flavor is very unique and not at all like nut butters. Tahini has somewhat savory flavor that stands up to sweeteners. I love it because of that because you always end up with a balanced baked good or treat. Almond butter or cashew butter are both great as replacements for butter, but they give way to sweeteners much more.
Whether it is sweet or savory, tahini works give fat and flavor. Why do it look Soom? It’s single source (no mish-mash from everywhere all in one jar), requires less stirring and a smoother taste. To me, it is worth ordering.
Puffed Brown Rice
I used puffed brown rice for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps that crunchy goodness.I do love that blue box of puffed rice, but, they tend to disintegrate into nothing in moisture. I mean there is a little crisp, but not as much. Secondly, puffed brown rice has some additional fiber (which I like to add where I can). Lastly, they are gluten-free. Not all puffed brown rice is gluten-free, but I used Nature’s Path Organic Puffed Brown Rice cereal that is made in a facility that does not process wheat.
The first time that I saw halvah in my local gourmet food store I had no idea what it was. I knew that it was made from sesame seeds, but that was about it. I bought it, took it home and finally tasted it. SOLD. It is like a less-sweet version of the inside of a Butterfinger bar. Crumbly, kinda crunchy, dissolves in your mouth and won’t get stuck in your teeth after you eat it.
I started to put it I my cookies along with chocolate chips and loved the texture it took on after it was baked. But also loved the flavor that it gave to the surrounding dough.
While I love it in this recipe, it is not a must. Halvah is not always easy to find and I have learned that not all halvah is created equal. I use a locally made Halvah called Halvah Heaven (order their maple flavor and you won’t be disappointed). You can also get fabulous halvah from Seed + Mill in New York City. Just give it a try.
Have you ever looked at the ingredient in sprinkles? Let me name a few: corn syrup, corn starch and even food grade wax. Did you know you were eating wax? Yeah, I didn’t either. When I started to test out desserts that were gluten-free and vegan, it was so hard to find sprinkles that were vegan, gluten-free, colored with natural products and still delicious.
I tried a lot of sprinkles. I still have most of them so I feel like Molly Yeh at times with a sprinkle stash. The ones that I ended up liking the most were from Supernatural. They keep their crunch, the ingredients are simple (no wax). I love them in these bars for that extra crunch, the pop of color. It is kinda like a funfetti crispy rice treat.
We all need sprinkles sometimes right?
1oz date syrup
1/2 oz (1 tbsp) organic coconut oil
1oz (about 1/3 cup) halvah
3 tbsp vegan, gluten-free sprinkles
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4oz (1 cup) puffed brown rice cereal
1 tbsp flax meal
1oz (1/4 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
4 oz super dark chocolate
1 oz tahini
1/2 oz coconut oil
1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the tahini, date syrup, coconut oil and salt. Whisk together until smooth. Add the puffed brown rice, sprinkles, flax meal, coconut and halvah to the tahini mixture. Mix together with a spatula until fully combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Using the back of the spatula or with greased hands, press the mixture into the corners and make it as even and flat as possible.
Freeze for 30 minutes. While the rice mixture sets, make the ganache. Combine the chocolate, coconut oil, tahini, salt and instant espresso powder into a small heatproof bowl. Heat in the microwave or over a double boiler until melted. Stir together until fully combined and smooth.
Remove the rice mixture from the freezer; pour the ganache over the top of the base. Use a spatular to spread evenly. Sprinkle with more sprinkles (because why not) and freeze again for 30 minutes.
Slice into thin bars, keep in the fridge and you’ll have a yummy no-bake treat that is perfect for a snack, easy dessert or just because we all need something sweet sometimes.