Soft and chewy, sweet and
gooey comforting... with a good dose of chocolate and a nice espresso kick. That's what these bars are all about. I've lately been having so much of the chocolate + espresso + molasses combo, and I honestly can't get enough. These chocolate covered espresso oat bars & a nice cup of coffee... dreams...
When I started making these bars, I wasn't sure where I was heading with them at all. All I knew is that I wanted to have that choco-espresso fix and I needed a medium of some kind for that. Oats seemed a good way to go. They're soft, mellow, tasty, and a good vessel for all kinds of flavors. And so I made the oaty "filling" first, and the rest my hands just sort of made by themselves... with whatever ideas flowed and whatever I had on hand.
Thinking about it now, I can see how this recipe could probably be pretty versatile for those with alternative preferences. Like doing half and half on the oats & dates and eliminating the coconut oil for those oil-free... Or using some pre-soaked buckwheat groats in place of oats for those sensitive to oats... Using a homemade magic shell in place of melted chocolate... Adding a bit of coconut sugar for a slightly caramely boost... A bit of orange extract for a choco espresso orange treat... Raw oats for raw version... Omitting the espresso and adding some raw ground vanilla bean (or a flavor of choice)... So many options with these and super easy to customize and have fun with. Then again, I'm quite pleased with how these turned out and probably wouldn't change a thing for next time :)
The only thing I'd say is that you must keep that molasses flavor! I know it's not a lot and many people ask whether it's essential because they don't want to spend money on a jar just to use the smallest amount in a recipe. I'm going to lie and say that it is essential... ok, you caught me, it isn't... -- but I highly recommend trying it. It adds such a beautiful deep malty flavor to chocolate. And you'll see that before long you'll be adding it to lots of things... So yeah, it's essential (but isn't if you must omit it of course... ;) ).
But ingredients aside... these bars are the easiest thing to make. And have been totally inseparable from my cup of coffee all week. I can't begin to imagine what my cuppa will be like without them when I run out... ?
A soft, chewy, chocolate covered gluten-free snack bar with a kick of espresso flavor.
- 2 cup gluten-free quick oats
- 8 soft medjool dates, pitted
- 6 tbsp coconut oil, softened or liquefied
- 4 tbsp maple syrup (or liquid sweetener of choice)
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1 tbsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses
- 1-3 tablespoon coconut oil or cacao butter, liquefied
- cacao nibs and chocolate coated amaranth balls (shaved chocolate, chocolate curls, or chocolate chips would work well too)
- Process all filing ingredients in a food processor into a uniform mixture. Transfer into a parchment-lined rectangular container (I used my 12 x 4.5 " loaf pan, but anything of a similar size will do). Smooth out the mixture and press down with the back of a spoon or a spatula until the mixture is even and flat. Freeze for 1 hour.
- Line a flat cookie sheet you can fit into your fridge or freezer with parchment and place the sheet in the freezer for about 5 mins while working on the next step (this will help the chocolate to set faster and not spread out on you too much in the next steps).
- Melt your chocolate in a bowl and add remaining ingredients, stirring for a while until everything combines into a uniform mixture (the coconut oil helps to thin it out, so use more or less as needed).
- Remove the frozen oat filling block from the freezer and transfer onto a cutting board. Cut into rectangles (or smaller squares if you prefer). Place a bar on a fork and dunk into the melted chocolate mixture to coat it. Wipe off any excess chocolate by running the bottom of the fork over the rim of the bowl. Place on the prepared chilled cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining bars. Sprinkle with toppings if using.
- Place the cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 mins to set, and enjoy! Keep bars refrigerated until use.