I was at my local natural foods store a few weeks back and they were sampling some delicious cookie dough protein bites. The recipe had all features I enjoy in a homemade protein bar – nut-based, naturally-sweetened, quality vegan protein, and dark chocolate – but I wanted to make my own version, because, well, that’s what we recipe testers do. We tinker. We tweak. We tamper.
I also wanted to mix up the flavours just a little bit more. I find commercial vegan protein powders, while awesome, are often too sweet, especially when the sweetener is stevia. To balance out the sweetness, I’ve added beautiful himalayan pink salt to my recipe, which gives the bars a more sweet/savoury balance (and adds a few additional trace minerals to the mix, which is never a bad thing).
Now, I’m not going to lie: photographing brown dough bars is no easy feat. But don’t judge these bars by their subdued appearance. They are delicious. They are so good that I daresay you could roll them in cocoa powder and call them truffles and serve them for dessert, and nobody would bat an eye.
I made my bars using a mini-loaf silicone pan – just put about 1/4 cup dough in the pan and flatten and squish until bar-shaped, and then turn out onto a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge. But, you could also make these as little discs in a muffin tin, or as little round balls (is there any way to say that without it sounding inappropriate?).
If you wanted to get entrepreneurial, you could also add shredded coconut to these bars, or perhaps diced dried cranberries or apricots. Try varying the nut butters, or make with an almond or pecan base instead of cashews.
These cookie dough protein bars work beautifully as a healthy yet rich dessert, or, as a snack with some pumpkin seeds and fruit at work. And as a bonus, when someone asks you the question dreaded by all vegans – “where do you get your protein?” – you can say, well, lots of places, but most deliciously from these bars.
- Author: Backyard Owl
- Recipe Notes: gluten-free, vegan, naturally-sweetened, protein-filled
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 10 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 1/2 scoops of your favourite chocolate protein powder (I used Genuine Health Vegan Protein in chocolate) – should be about 1/2 to 2/3 cup protein powder
- 1/4 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt or sea salt
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- Over low heat, warm nut butter and coconut oil until coconut oil is completely melted and everything is nice and liquidy.
- Whirl together cashews in a food processor until finely ground.
- Add dates a few at a time and blend until dates are fully processed (i.e no large bits remain) and dough is starting to look moist and soft.
- Scoop date/cashew mix into a large bowl, and stir in protein powder and sea salt.
- Pour coconut oil/nut butter mix over, and stir until well-combined. Dough at this point should be very soft and squishy, and very moldable.
- Stir in chocolate chips and give a quick taste test. Depending on your protein powder, you might wish to either add more salt, or alternatively, a bit more protein powder.
- Mold dough into preferred shape (individual bars, truffle size bites, etc) or press into a pan (to be later cut into squares).
- Chill in the fridge until firm, about 25 minutes.
- Bars keep in a tupperware in the fridge for at least a week.
© 2014 Backyard Owl