So I may have just created the world’s girliest power bar… Leave it to me to take something meant to function as a super plain quick snack on the go and turn it into something that looks like it belongs in a patisserie… ? Yep, I admit it, I’m not always super practical, but if it ain’t pretty I likely won’t be interested either. But these bars — after having a taste, I think I’d pretty much eat them no matter how or what they look like. They are probably the one and only power bar I’ve ever been excited to eat …and actually thoroughly enjoyed.
So what makes these bars so good? They are VERY chocolatey, for starters. They are soft and chewy in just the right way. They are refined sugar-free, oil-free, and nut-free. They take no-time to make. They are full of protein powder for an added nutritional boost, yet they don’t taste like a typical power bar (nor can you taste the powder). So they give you the boost of a protein bar, but they taste like a real dessert. And they have an amazing flavor thanks to the added almond extract. Like a delicious candy bar, but not overly sweet. Just right in every way. My husband described them as a cross between a Mars bar and a chocolate covered granola bar.
And it seemed providence I made these — last week was super crazy and we were running in and out of the house every time I turned around, so the power bars turned out to be real heroes as a snack on the go — especially for my husband, who was even willing to look past the frills and flowers and had to be stopped from enjoying most of these on his own!
What possessed me to make a protein power bar? I’m actually not a fan of store-bought power bars. I do get them from time to time, especially because they’re so convenient for long days out of the house, etc. But I find the ones I can actually eat (the non-dairy & gluten ones, and ones made without xylitol & co) often taste …old? …stale? …meh? …or just plain wrong. Do you find the same? It’s rare to find ones that actually taste fresh.
But I got inspired to give these a go through another collaboration with About Time protein powders. I worked with them a few months back on a most delicious cake recipe. Their chocolate protein powder specifically is my current favorite. It has incredible specs, and I love that the whole plant-based line of powders is gluten-free, non-gmo, and refined sugar-free. Plus I love the backstory behind the company and the awesome lady who runs it (read more about it in my other post here). I love supporting quality brands and it was a no-brainer to work with them again on a recipe.
Note: I’m positive most chocolate protein powders will work in this recipe instead. So if you’re not in reach of the About Time chocolate powder, don’t stress. Go with whatever you use or can find. But if you are in reach of them, I highly recommend giving this powder a go as per above. Love it.
P.S. I was working with a bunch of chocolate the day I made these and had some melted chocolate leftover. Not wanting to let it go to waste, I mixed some up with a bit more of the protein powder and turned it into a most delicious chocolate bar.
If you wanted to give that a try, just mixed approx 4 tbsp raw melted dark chocolate, 2 tbsp chocolate protein powder, a tiny dash of salt and a drop of almond extract… ? Pour into mold, freeze, done.
P.P.S. See Unconventional Treats video training for additional tips on working with melted chocolate for creating prettier chocolates.
- 2 cups gf quick oats*
- 8 soft medjool dates, pitted
- ¼ cup water
- 3½ tbsp chocolate protein powder (I used About Time - 1 chocolate packet)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract (can use orange extract or peppermint as well)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1¼ cups melting dark chocolate of your choice (or make a homemade version)
- ¼ tsp almond extract (or another extract of choice -- same as used in filling)
- tiny dash of salt
- Optional: 1 tbsp coconut oil or cacao butter, liquefied (helps with easier coating)
- cacao nibs, edible rose petals and buds
- Process all filling ingredients in a food processor until the mixture begins to form a ball (stop periodically to scrape down sides as needed). Transfer this mixture into a small parchment-lined rectangular tupperware container or dish of your choice (I used a 3 x 5", but anything of a similar size will do). Press down into a flat even block. Then cover with a sheet of parchment paper and press down more, smoothing out the surface (can use a flat-bottomed object to help you). Freeze for a few hours until firm. Place a small metal tray covered with parchment paper into the freezer as well to chill a while.
- When ready to coat, melt your chocolate in a bowl. Stir in the additional coating ingredients. Set aside. Have your toppings handy and the chilled tray lined with parchment paper to set the final product on.
- Remove the filling from the freezer. Transfer the set filling block onto a cutting board. Trim off any uneven edges and cut into 6 squares. Dunk each bar in the melted chocolate to coat, wipe off any excess chocolate by running the fork tines over the rim of the melted chocolate dish. Set on the chilled lined metal tray to set. Repeat with remaining pieces. (I gather up the scraps I trimmed off and turn them into additional bars at the end as well -- just rough shape them with your hands and dip in the chocolate as with the other squares.)
- Drizzle with a bit of the remaining chocolate if you like. Sprinkle with any toppings if using (have to work fast to so the chocolate doesn't set before the toppings go on). Place in the fridge or freezer for 20 mins more to set. Enjoy! Keep leftovers refrigerated.