Without further ado, may I present… wait for it… the most perfect, light and crispy, chewy chocolate tahini muesli bars!! We made them, loved them and then realised that they were our recipe, tweaked and returned and tweaked again! I had to laugh! A blogger friend tweaked my recipe for Peanut Butter Oat Slice, then included a version of it in her self-published cookbook, which I then made and loved, and tweaked again. Here it is under a different name, slightly healthier perhaps, but oh, so good.
Like David Lebovitz, it took me a while to nail this, the perfect lunchbox snack. I couldn’t figure out the pros and cons of baking versus not baking my muesli bars, but aware that we already had muesli biscuits and a homemade muesli bar recipe on the blog, I was looking for something a little lighter, a little crispier, and found it when I discovered a muesli (granola) bar made with puffed rice cereal. The presence of puffed rice creates a lighter product, one that I prefer to your standard oat-based bar.
There is no reason to turn on the oven at all; the natural glue created with honey and tahini is all you need to bind these bars together. I definitely recommend adding in those optional extras… they make these so much more nutritious! Yes, these are for chocoholics, but let me tell you, the presence of cacao (or cocoa) does not make them unhealthy! But perhaps the drizzle of chocolate across the top does! Either way, they are delicious, and also nut-free, which just quietly, I consider a major coup!
Chocolate + Tahini No-Bake Muesli Bars
These light and crispy chocolate and sesame bars are a coup for nut-free lunch boxes everywhere!
Makes 10 large, 20 small
1 ½ cups quick oats (use gluten-free oats if necessary)
1 ½ cups puffed rice cereal, such as Rice Bubbles
¾ cup chopped dried cranberries or other dried fruit
1 tablespoon raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup honey*
½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
50g (¼ cup) chopped dried dates
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
¼ cup cacao nibs
75g dark chocolate, for drizzling
Preheat oven to 180degC/350F. Grease and line a 23 x 23cm (9×9-inch) baking tray with baking paper, allowing a 3cm overhang on two opposite sides.
Place oats, coconut and seeds in a large roasting pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes.
Place all dry ingredients, including your optional extras, into a large mixing bowl. Measure honey, tahini, butter (or coconut oil) and chopped dates into a saucepan and stir over low heat until smooth. Once the dates begin to soften and the mixture is slightly thickened, remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Add honey mixture to oat mixture and work quickly to mix until all ingredients are well coated. Tip into prepared baking tray and press down with spatula (then your hands, then a marble rolling pin!), just to make sure it is tightly packed. Refrigerate until firm and then remove from tin using baking paper handles.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in short bursts in the microwave, and spoon into a small, snack-sized zip-lock bag. Snip off a tiny bit of one corner, and use this to drizzle the muesli bars with melted chocolate. When chocolate has set, cut into bars. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat.
*For a vegan option, try using rice malt syrup instead. Aussies might like using golden syrup.