Give me a new ingredient, and I’ll practically move heaven and earth to find a way to use and enjoy it, no matter how unusual or scarce it may be. I make a point to try everything vegan at my disposal at least once, and some of my favorite fresh discoveries have been made this way. Thus, when I was approached by Organics Are For Everyone about trying out date syrup, the mere concept was irresistibly appealing. Never before had I considered a syrup made solely of those naturally sweet and succulent fruits, and yet it made so much sense- Thank goodness someone thought of the concept and bottled it!
Tasting for all the world like pure dates in liquid form, like one would expect, it pours just like molasses and has a pleasantly demure sweetness, much less in-your-face sugary than agave or maple. Though I can happily see using this as a simple topping on pancakes or even ice cream, I was clamoring to get this nectar into the kitchen to see what it could do in some treats.
Using the deep, molasses-like, earthy flavors to my advantage, I started out by dabbling a bit on the savory side of the street. Truthfully, more like the sweet-and-salty side, these candied cashews are all of the above, and then some. Tangy from a healthy dose of balsamic vinegar, and just a touch spicy thanks to a little pinch of cayenne and paprika, they’ve got it all going on, and are incredibly addictive to boot. Pleasing all realms of the palate, it’s disconcertingly easy to just munch on handfuls of these little morsels while watching a movie or chatting it up with friends.
Thinking more towards healthy sweets, this date syrup seemed like the perfect thing to introduce to a crispy snack bar. Packed with wholesome things like oats, wheat germ, and puffed rice, it’s easy to excuse that little handful of chocolate chips and think of these as health food. Plus, the date syrup keeps things from being tooth-achingly sweet, so it’s hard to feel guilty about these simple little squares. Ideal for packing in a lunch box or taking along for a snack on the road, these will absolutely see a repeat performance in my kitchen sooner or later.
Now I don’t usually share two recipes in one post, but both of these were so incredibly good, I can hardly leave you guys hanging. Just consider it a little “thank you” gift for being so patient while I got my school situation under control!
Sweet and Salty Balsamic Cashews
1/4 Cup Date Syrup
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Raw Sesame Seeds
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
2 Cups Whole, Raw Cashews
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
Simply whisk together all of the wet ingredients and spices, and once everything is combined, add in the cashews and toss to coat. Pour everything out onto your prepared sheet, spreading the nuts out into an even layer so than none are overlapping. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until there’s no remaining liquid between the cashews and the nuts themselves are golden brown.
Pull the silpat or parchment paper off the baking sheet to let the cashews cool. Break up any clusters, and store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Double Date Chocolate Chip Bars
2 Cups Rolled Oats
1 1/2 Cups Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
1/2 Cup Wheat Germ
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Date Syrup
1/4 Cup Date Sugar
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
Place the oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and toss to combine. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, combine the date syrup, date sugar, and coconut oil, and set over medium heat. Cool until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is just on the brink of boiling. Incorporate the vanilla, and quickly pour the hot syrup into the bowl of dry goods. Mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Add in the chips and stir to distribute them through the mixture. (Adding them last helps to prevent them from melting, but if you’d prefer an all-over chocolate bar, go ahead and add them first to the syrup, let them sit for a moment to melt, and them stir everything together.)
Transfer everything into your prepared pan, and use lightly greased hands or a non-stick spatula to firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool completely in the pan before turning out onto a cutting board and slicing into bars.
Makes 16 – 25 Bars