So I made these goji pecan bars… and then I couldn’t stop eating them. Typical 😅.
Actually I thought I was quite done with pecans after all the pecan cookies, cheesecake pie, and maple pie that’s been happening lately — but just when I thought I was going to take a break from pecans, a friend gifted me a whole bag of them and tasked me with creating something yummy!
Oh, well. I don’t think I could ever complain about too many pecans (especially free ones 😉), so I put them to good use and ended up with these cookie bars.
Wait just a moment! ✋ Did you see that crispy cracked top layer in the above photo? Brings back memories of sugary cookie bars and brownies, doesn’t it? I thought those were forever lost to me when I quit refined sugar. So when these bars came out of the oven sporting that perfectly crackled top, I was shocked.
It happened due to a small fluke, which led to an interesting discovery… and also to some cookie bars that are perfectly crispy-topped on the outside, yet warm, soft and chewy on the inside. My perfect balance 😋
So the little accident was due to the fact I completely ran out of coconut sugar mid-way through making these. I was aiming for 1/2 a cup of coconut sugar, but was just a few tbsp short. I rummaged through the pantry and found some sucanat in the corner…
If you’re not familiar, sucanat is a form of cane sugar, but it is unrefined and retains all its nutrients and minerals intact. So it’s another form of a sweetener that could be used in refined sugar-free baking, but it’s one I never use on the blog because I think most people are terrified of the sound of “cane sugar” these days. But sucanat is actually one of the good guys (in moderation of course!). So I threw a few tbsp in and couldn’t believe the crispy cookie bar top 👍
If you’re not sold on the sucanat though, or if your health doesn’t permit you to have some, feel free to use all coconut sugar instead for that part — it’ll work just the same, minus the sugary crackled top bit.
On that note, though these bars are refined sugar-free, they are sweeeeet! The sugar is what holds them together, actually (unlike other types of bars held together by fats — these are an oil-free version).
It’s definitely a dessert bar more than just a granola / power bar. But they are filling (thanks to the pecans), and satisfying. And I fess up, I totally still had them as breakfast 😆. They’re so, so good with a cuppa.
Oh, and if you’re not a fan of goji (I’m actually not either! except they tasted good in this — pinky swear), feel free to substitute raisins or dried cherries.
So there you go, 5 ingredients only (or 6 if you go the sucanat route), and you’ve got yourself some crispy, chewy, and delicious cookie bars and a mini lesson on getting crackle tops on your refined sugar-free bars!
- ½ cup dried goji berries
- 1½ cups pecan halves
- ½ cup coconut sugar (or ⅓ cup coconut sugar + 2½ tbsp sucanat for a crispier top)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8" x 6" tupperware container (or any oven-safe dish of a similar size) with parchment paper and set aside.
- Process all ingredients in a food processor into a fine sticky crumble. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and press down into a flat even layer. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and press it down even more with a flat-bottomed object to compress the mixture as much as possible.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven for 25 mins. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Cut into pieces and enjoy. Store leftovers in a sealed tupperware container.