Did you make any new year’s resolutions this year? I’ve always thought that the beginning of the year was a great time to reflect on the previous twelve months and to take a good look at how you might take advantage of all the exciting (or challenging) things the new year has to offer. This year, I thought that I might really get down to business and set some ‘resolutions.’ You know, take charge, carpe diem, etc. I thought I would resolve to do something that would really improve my life and leave me feeling like I mastered 2015, was living my best life, had truly found my purpose. Of course the usual suspects crossed my mind, eat healthier, exercise more, save more money, dedicate a few less hours a week to watching TV and a few more to whipping up delicious recipes for this blog. I could resolve to spend more time at the Smithsonian or the Kennedy Center, or just generally basking in all of the free cultural opportunities our nation’s capital has to offer. Or maybe I could resolve to call my friends more often or spend a little extra time each week talking to my family. Finally, I settled on something I knew I could accomplish. This year I resolve to eat more no-bake cookies and watch the entire series of Friends, from the first episode to the last.
Also, I’ve already started. It’s ok to be impressed now.
Lest my new year’s resolution leave me looking like the goodyear blimp, I also resolved to find a recipe for healthier no-bake cookies. Luckily, I can check that one off my list as well.
It’s no secret that I love no-bake cookies. I once heard my friend tell her husband that no-bake cookies are a sign that your mom didn’t really love you. Ha! If love were measured in cookies, then I’d say that the opposite is more likely to be true. So if no-bakes were a stranger in your home…well, you might have to wonder (and have a serious conversation with your mom).
Despite my love for these rarely attractive but always delicious squares of chocolatey oaty goodness, I can’t help but shudder each time I am forced to dump two whole cups of sugar into the pan. I don’t consider sugar to be my true nemesis like some of you out there, but that’s a lot of sugar. Yuck. So, I’ve been on the prowl for a recipe for healthier no-bake cookies for a while. I found these no-bake cookie bars over at the Minimalist Baker, and was intrigued but not sold. I love to make homemade lara bars, so the idea of using dates as a base was appealing to me. I just wasn’t sure if they could really make a passable no-bake cookie substitute. So, I filed that recipe away and whipped up a batch of my classic chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies for the holidays.
But, a new year means
a new me new cookies, and the last time we were at the store a container of juicy dates mysteriously jumped into my cart. Dana’s recipe involves pulsing delicious dates, oats, peanut butter and chocolate chips in a food processor and then pressing them in a thin layer in the bottom of a pan. I don’t have a food processor, so I used the dry container on my vitamix. (I love my vitamix, by the way, did you know that it can make nut butters?) I was also looking for a smaller, thicker cookie rather than a thin bar. The end result was sort of a lara bar meets no-bake cookie hybrid (photo below). I loved them! Finally, healthier no-bake cookies I could love.
As I was enjoying my–let’s just say fifth–cookie, I wondered if I hadn’t missed an opportunity to create an even more delicious recipe for healthier no-bake cookies. Although the cookie-lara bars had all of the same flavors that are so characteristic of classic no-bake cookies, they weren’t really melded together in the way that I had hoped, and the texture–possibly due to my lack of a food processor–was more like a granola bar than a no-bake.
It didn’t take much convincing for me to try these little drops of heaven (see what I did there? Two new year’s resolutions in one sentence) again. This time, I used the blender to chop up the dates, and then mixed them separately with the oats. Then, I melted together chocolate, peanut butter, and a tablespoon of coconut oil to pour over the date-oat mixture. Ooooh. Myyyy. Gaaaawd. Seriously, these are the winner. (Disclaimer, even though there’s no added sugar in these cookies, dates are pretty sweet, and these are definitely still cookies…just thought I should mention incase you chose a *ahem* more traditional new year’s resolution.)
- 20 large whole dates (pitted)
- 4 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a blender or food processor, pulse the dates until they form a thick paste. (If you bought pitted dates, cut each one in half just to make sure that every pit has been removed…there’s nothing worse than a chopped up date seed scattered throughout your cookies.)
- In a small microwave safe bowl (or in a double boiler) melt the chocolate chips stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Stir in the peanut butter, coconut oil, and salt and stir.
- In a medium sized bowl, stir together the dates and the oats. Add the chocolate-peanut butter mixture and stir until well combined.
- Press the mixture into a loaf pan lined with wax paper.
- Transfer to the freezer for about an hour. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
- Store in a ziplock bag in the freezer.