in the infinite vastness of the universe, our lives are mere instants even on a geological time scale, let alone a cosmic one; we will all be dead any minute — thomas nagel
I may be a total weirdo but Nagel’s words have brought me comfort more times than I can count. It’s the kind of wisdom a girl can use when she’s revisiting her to-do list for the fourth time at 3am.
Outstretched on the lawn last Monday with my back against the soft grass and my best girl by my side, I watched the moon brush up against the sun – that first black crescent slice into the orange globe enough to send warm salty tears streaming down my cheeks.
I’m no astrophysicist but even I can appreciate the celestial harmony that has to take place in order for our moon to appear the same size as our sun — an elliptical orbit so perfect that it can’t help but offer its humbled spectators a glimpse into the wonders of the universe. And we could all use a little wonder intercepting our worry these days along with more reminders of what unites us on this beautiful earth.
And speaking of syzygy (really wanted to use that word), I’m hoping these bars align with your long weekend plans.
I’ve been craving a new bar with a little zing and a lot of crispy crunchy deliciousness – a touch of salt, a touch of sweet and loaded with gorgeous ingredients. Dark chocolate covered nuts are probably my fave indulgence (next to sweet potato fries) and these bars satisfy. I tend to cut them up on the smaller side, a little goes a long way with these fellas given their density of ingredients. I’ve put together detailed Notes in the recipe card below to help guide choices, so you can check those out too!
Cheers to everyday joys, and not-so everyday joys, and to viewing the world with our third eye open.
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 8-12 dried figs (see Notes)
- 1 cup natural (unsweetened) almond butter
- 2 tsp grated ginger, optional
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 cup rice cereal (see Notes)
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 4 oz (about ⅔ cup) dark chocolate (see Notes)
- Small handful unsweetened coconut shavings, toasted (see Notes)
- Place figs in a bowl and add just enough boiling water to cover - allow figs to soften for 5 minutes or so.
- Drain figs and then mash as much as possible using a fork.
- Meanwhile, melt coconut oil in a medium sized pot on the stove over low heat.
- Add mashed figs to the pot along with almond butter and freshly grated ginger.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir and help further break down fig while blending ingredients over low/medium heat for a minute or two (being careful not to burn the almond butter).
- Remove from the heat and add pumpkin seeds, rice cereal and chopped walnuts.
- Line an 8" x 8" baking pan with parchment paper such that it hangs over either end (this will allow you to easily remove slab from pan).
- Spread the batter into the pan and use the back of a spoon or the palm of your hand to press everything down firmly and as level as possible (you could also use a mini roller if you happen to have one - fancy!).
- Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a sturdy pot on stove over lowest heat until fully melted (keep a close eye so that it doesn't burn and help it along by stirring). Pour the melted chocolate over the flattened slab and use the back of a spoon or spatula to distribute evenly.
- While the chocolate is still wet (unset), sprinkle with toasted (or untoasted if you prefer) coconut flakes or skip altogether if not your thing. Pop the pan into the fridge until cold and firm. When you are ready to enjoy, simply elevate parchment from both ends and then use a long knife to cut into long bars and then smaller squares (I made 6 long bars and cut each into 4 squares for 24 little bars).
- You can store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days or in the freezer for at least a month. If you cut them into squares before freezing, you can remove as you need and allow them to thaw slightly -- the chocolate is what gets the hardest (they are yummiest I think when still kind of firm and cold). Enjoy!
The Figs: fig varieties vary in size -- I recommend 12 dried mission figs or 8 dried Turkish figs.
The Rice Cereal: you can use any brand of puffed rice cereal here (One Degree & Erewhon are two brands of crispy brown rice) but you could also use Rice Krispies (in its original form or its reinvented whole grain brown rice form) -- the original is not high in sugar but the brown rice does offer slightly less sugar and slightly more protein/fiber.
The Nut Butter: you can absolutely play around with different nut butters, nuts and seeds in this recipe, according to your own taste and dietary preferences.
The Ging! raise your hand and do a little dance if you love ginger -- the ginger flavor does come through here so if you're a fan I think it will tickle your tootsies (it's also beautifully warming in the fall) but if it's not your thing, just skip it.
The Chocolate: you can use chocolate chips for simplicity or chopped dark chocolate of choice. The two chocolates I use most are Ghirardelli Intense Dark (86% cacao) bar and Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips (63% cacao).
Coconut: desiccated or dry coconut comes in different shapes and sizes most commonly shredded and flaked - the flakes are larger shavings (so pretty) that add a delightful mild coconut flavor to baked goods (you can also use them to top oatmeal/yogurt/granola etc) - I especially like them toasted (I just add them to a dry skillet on low/medium heat and toss until they start to brown). I buy mine at Whole Foods but you can also find them at any bulk or health food store.
The Salt: I used unsalted almond butter for this recipe but incorporated salted pepitas which adds a touch of savory - if you are using unsalted butter/nuts/seeds you could add a pinch of salt at the end when you are mixing in the rice cereal if you wish or skip it.
photo credit to my husband and son who worked together to capture this beautiful moment at total solar eclipse in Oregon