or How to Tame an After-School Sweet Tooth
I have learned the hard way that I must give my children a snack within 10 minutes of the moment their feet hit the ground below the school bus each afternoon. Since I refuse to buy plastic-wrapped single serving snacks, I’ve had to come up with snacks that are fast, alluring, and relatively healthy (using my own quirky interpretation of healthy).
Mira has a sweet tooth she could only have inherited from me, and I’m attempting to provide her with opportunities to find her own way to moderation – I’m worried that otherwise, she’ll follow in my footsteps and become a young schoolyard sugar dealer to support that sweet tooth I gifted her DNA with. Part of my plan is to provide her with treats that are sweet without an overload of refined sugar, to sate her sweet tooth while also helping her to calibrate her palate’s sugar meter so it takes less to get that satisfaction.
Enter the lovely stovetop cookie tradition. When I was a kid, these no-bake treats seemed to come in two flavors: Peanut Butter-Sugar (boiled together then rolled in more sugar) and Chocolate Chips-Coconut-Sugar (melted together and dropped on waxed paper). Tasty, but so sugary even I could only eat a few. And that’s saying something.
Here’s a version I came up with this afternoon to turn some dates and pecans from my bulk jars into sweet and sticky treats that are at least a bit healthier than the versions I grew up with. These are fast and easy to make, perfect as the final bite of an after-school snack. One of these small cookies settled Mira’s sugar craving right down for the day – Potent and tasty cookies! I’d like them better with dates as the only sweetener, so next time I’ll try that.
2 cups puffed rice
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs
1 cup chopped dates (about 12 – 14 plump Medjool dates)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup date sugar, coconut sugar, or rapadura
1/4 cup coconut oil, ghee, or butter
2 Tb blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch sea salt
organic powdered sugar or unsweetened coconut to roll ‘em in (powdered sugar is my main refined sugar pantry item – A little bit goes a long way)
Toss the puffed rice, chopped pecans, and cacao nibs or chocolate chips together in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the chopped dates, eggs, coconut oil/ghee/butter, rapadura/other sugar, molasses, and sea salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 8-10 minutes, or until the dates have broken down a good bit and the whole mixture has become thick, glossy, and sticky. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
Pour the hot mixture into the puffed rice mixture and stir well by hand. Let it cool for a few minutes, until you can stand to handle it. When you’re safe from burns, use your wet hands to shape the mixture into small balls (whatever size you prefer; I like about the size of a walnut in its shell). You’ll need to wet your hands after each 5-6 balls to keep things from turning into a sticky mess. Set the finished balls onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. When you’ve made the last ball, start rolling the earlier ones in powdered sugar or unsweetened shredded coconut so each ball has a lovely and less sticky coating. Coconut is the way to go if you’re going to store these for later, since it really helps with the stickiness factor over time; powdered sugar works for a few hours, but not overnight.
Eat right away or store in an airtight jar for lunches and snacks.