A “Healthy” Treat

Occasionally, my sweet tooth hits an insatiable level, as I’ve mentioned before. In those moments, when my sugar cravings are hulking out, I have been attempting to enjoy sweet treats that have some redemptive scrap of nutritional value. Having finally wearied of turning on the oven to bake chick-pea based cookies (which are still delicious, by the way), I decided it was time to look into a no-bake option – it is summer after all.

Ingredients to Assemble:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut-butter (I used the organic kind, because it’s supposedly better for you…)
  • 2/3 c. honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 & 1/4 c. chocolate (I used semi-sweet chips, but whatever you have handy can work, as long as it’s chopped into small bits)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c. flaked coconut

Step 1 of 2 (aka. this is going to be easy)

Mix everything but the oats and coconut in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly, until it is one smooth, melted-together consistency. Healthy-ish

Step 2 of 2 (a no brainer)

Add in the oats and coconut and stir it up. Then scrape the whole gooey mixture into a pan that you have lined with tin-foil and non-stick-sprayed as much as possible! Throw this into the refrigerator to set before you slice them up!healthy . . . glue?

When they are done, slice them up and enjoy! Just remember to store these suckers in the fridge or they will melt!bites of fake-healthy goodness

It is probably worth mentioning that these are by no mean low-calorie. . . which is why the “healthy” is in quotation marks. HOWEVER, they have no butter, no straight sugar (except in those chocolate chips, I’m sure), no processed oils, and (probably arguably) some nutritional value (ahem: oats and protein, man).

SO . . . while not exactly guilt-free, probably better than your average candy bar, yes? eat them!!

Take-A-Number Bars

Meet Zach.

zachary

Zach is my little brother who got married (to the lovely lady pictured on the right above, incidentally) and moved to Florida temporarily where he is living my own personal dream: working in thrift stores and experimenting with new recipes. Now, is this his personal ideal? Probably not. But being in Florida so short term means that his ideal is kind of impossible, so in the few-week interim he happens to be filling his days doing two of my all time favorite things. I’m trying not to be jealous. In one of our many conversation, he started to tell me about a recipe for a homemade version of Take 5 Candy Bars that he had found online. Pretzel crust, peanut-butter fluffy-ness, caramel full of peanuts and chocolate? That’s five very nice things. In fact, we got to thinking that you could probably eliminate any one . . . or two . . . or three . . . layers, and still have a delicious treat. So, without further ado, here is my first experiment with what I am lovingly referring to as

Take-A-Number Bars!!!

If you really want to go to the source, click here, because they are the experts who really know what they are doing (at least, comparatively), but feel free to follow my meager attempts as well! You might notice that I cut every amount in half to make a half-batch. . . but I’m giving you the original figures, because I don’t want to say “half of a third of a cup” like 5 times.

Step 1: The Pretzel Crust

Making The Pretzel Crust

Crush up pretzels so that you have 2 cups. Then mix the crushed bits with 3/4 c. melted butter and 1/2 cup light brown sugar. Bake this at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Step 2: The Peanut-Buttery Fluffy-Sweetness Layer

peanutty filling

Mix together one half cup of softened butter, 1 cup of creamy peanut butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar. Spread the resulting peanut-buttery fluffy stuff over the cooled pretzel crust.

Step 3: TWO of the Take Five Components 

Caramel and Nuts

In a pan, put 1 and 1/2 cups of white sugar, 2 Tbsp light corn syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/3 cup water. Don’t stir it, but DO stick a candy thermometer in and make sure it reaches 340 degrees fahrenheit! The sugar will just have started to darken/turn caramel-y colored when it is at the right temp. This takes about 15 minutes. At this point, remove it from the heat and add 1/3 cup of heavy cream, 1/3 cup butter and 1 Tbsp. sour cream. Mix it until it’s all incorporated and then let it cool into lovely caramel.

Note: If you screw up the timing/temperature on this, you might accidentally wind up with something resembling maple sugar candy (ahem, not that I know this from personal experience or anything). IF that is the case, please feel free to do what I did and re-do this step, following the directions better.)

THEN, when the caramel is cool(ish) crush up about 1 cup of honey roasted peanuts and put those bits into the caramel before spreading those on top of the peanut-butter-fluffy-stuff layer.

Step 4: The Final Chocolatey touch

The final step is melting some (2 cups) milk chocolate for the top, which I do in a microwave because it’s easy. (Double boilers = twice the dishes, right?) I skipped adding the cream that the recipe called for, because I didn’t think it was really necessary. Spread the melted chocolate on the top and let it all cool in the fridge!

1-2-3-4-5 essential layering pieces!

Step 5: Checking Out the Finished Product

I'll Take FiveAll things considered? These are pretty darn tasty.

Well chosen, Zach.

Chocolate Chick Cookie Bites

I have a sweet tooth.

Like, some people probably say that and think,”Awww, I have a sweet tooth too!” But your sweet tooth is like this:

via

My sweet tooth is more like this:

via

See the difference?

Suffice it to say, I’ve never been one of those people that can give up candy or sweets for the sake of “healthy eating”. Which is why the recipe I am about to share with you is a little bit shocking. My sister Bethany actually shared a recipe on her Facebook wall,  originally from a blog called “Texanerin” (as in, a lovely and talented girl Erin from Texas). This recipe was for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites, which doesn’t sound all that difficult to like, right? Well, hold your horses, because these are no ordinary PB/Choc-Chip Cookie Dough bites. Oh no. They involve 6 ingredients, and the first (and primary) one was the real shocker for me. Can you spot it?

One of these things is not like the other. . .

  • 1 1/4 cups canned chickpeas (?!)  – (almost a full regular sized can), well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter  (the original recipe warns that unnatural PB doesn’t work, just f.y.i.!)
  • 1/4 cup  honey 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Then combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, in a food processor in order to have smooth un-bean-like dough. . . which is fine but I don’t have a food processor (shocking, I know). SO, I used my blender, although it was not exactly ideal. . . the dough is a little too sticky to blend very well, but I’ll have to try again. Just be sure to scrape the sides a lot, whatever you do, so that your “dough” stuff isn’t chick-pea-ish.

Before Blending

At this point in the process, I was highly, highly skeptical.

Next add the chocolate chips (I didn’t measure so much as eye-ball it and drop a handful or two in) and mix it together for a bit. The dough is very thick and a bit sticky, although I didn’t find it too bad. Plus, shockingly enough, it tasted good!

The Dough

Seriously, the PB gets rid of the garbanzo bean taste, and you actually can’t get salmonella from eating this stuff. . . just a thought.

Then, roll the dough into little balls. The original recipe says to put these onto parchment paper and bake as cookies, but I just rolled them and stuck them into a mini-muffin tin, because it seemed like it would make them easier to manage.

Mini Chocolate Chicks?

It might be a good idea to use mini chocolate chips too, if you plant to make these a little as I did!

As recommended, I pressed them down a little bit, because they really don’t do very much shape changing in the 10-12 minutes they spend baking (10 for littler ones!). This recipe made about 24 mini-muffin-sized cookies!

Completed Cookies

These little guys are best eaten warm, but still tasty cold!

My verdict? These are good! Seriously. Remember  how I’m a type 2 sweet-a-holic? (watch that second video clip again if you don’t know what I mean) . . . I think that officially makes me a connoisseur of sorts. I mean, yes, you can tell that these are not your typical chocolate chip cookie when you try them, but they are still really good as a dessert! AND, they are a nice little kick of protein and fiber in your diet, should those be lacking. PLUS, they have no processed oils or crazy sugars (depending on your chocolate chip brand, I suppose). In fact, how they wind up tasting good is kind of a mystery to me. First I wondered if there was something wrong with my taste buds, but I even had 6 blind taste-testers at work who approved wholeheartedly of the tasty-factor BEFORE I told them that it was chick-pea based, so I think it is officially legit!  So, there you have it: Chocolate Chick Cookie bites, ladies and gentlemen. Give them a whirl and see how you feel!

Recipe Source: Texanerin