Imagine a cookie dough dessert that’s civil enough to bring to a potluck, yet healthy enough to sneak for breakfast…This is it! Rich maple flavor comes together with creamy nuts, and chia seeds add a micro-crunch texture while holding the dough together perfectly and absorbing excess stickiness.
My first job ever was on a maple farm, so this sweet syrup holds a special place in my heart. It’s my go-to choice of sweetener. Most people celebrate maple season (which just ended, by the way!) with classic pancake breakfasts drizzled with syrup, but why not have maple for every occasion?! This dessert has been a huge success with everyone who has tried it, and they constantly ask for the recipe. Now you can have it too!
Makes 18 tablespoon-sized balls
Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus a few hours to sit and develop the right texture
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup whole, raw cashews
2 ½ tablespoons dried, finely shredded coconut
¼ cup crunchy almond butter
½ cup dark maple syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use 2!)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Extra oats and cashews to make reserve flour
Food processor or heavy-duty blender
Step 1: Blend the Dry Ingredients
Measure out the rolled oats, cashews, and dried coconut. Place in a food processor or heavy duty blender (I have an old Vitamix from the 80’s… it’s made of steel!) and blend on medium for 15 to 20 seconds. The flour will start to ride up the sides and the blades will lose contact, so use a spoon to fluff it back down and scoop it up from the bottom. Blend again on medium; now that the mixture is finer it will stick to the sides again sooner than before. Fluff and scoop it again, then blend, and repeat this process about 5 times to get a really fine grind. You’ll notice soft chunks start to form from the cashew fats being released and sticking to each other. Remember, there’s no baking or anything else that will change the texture of the recipe, so thoroughness at this step is important for a quality finish. Place the dry mix in a bowl and set aside.
Separate from the above mix: Blend some oats and cashews together to make some reserve flour to use at the end (you don’t need much; ¼ cup of each should be more than enough).
Step 2: Mix the Wet Ingredients
Measure out the maple syrup, almond butter, and vanilla extract and combine in a bowl.
**Tip: When working with sticky liquid sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, coat the measuring cup with a film of olive oil first. The sweetener will slide right out without leaving a thick layer that has to be swiped out with your fingers or a spatula.**
Step 3: Add Half the Dry Mixture + Chia and Chocolate
Mix about a cup of dry flour mix in to the wet ingredients bowl, then add the 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons chia seeds.
I like to add the chia and chocolate at this stage because later on the dough gets stiffer and it would take more effort to evenly distribute them.
Step 4: Add the Rest of the Dry Mix and Fine Tune the Texture
Finish mixing the remaining flour in with the dough. It will be a little too sticky at this point, so now we’ll fine tune the texture by using little bits of reserve flour made earlier. Add 1 tablespoon at a time; I added just over 2 tablespoons. Avoid adding too much; you want a slightly sticky consistency because over the next couple hours the chia seeds will continue to soak up moisture, and a perfectly dry texture now means they’ll be a little too dry later. See the pictures; the dough should leave a sticky residue on your hand but for the most part it will stick to itself when you try to roll it up.
**When testing the texture, use a clean hand. If your hands are already sticky, the dough will stick even more, appearing too sticky to work with when it’s actually good enough**
Step 5: Shape and Serve
Use a tablespoon to scoop out uniform amounts of dough, then roll into ball shapes in your hands. It’s best to roll fairly quickly; at this stage, if you let the dough sit on your hand for a while, the warmth with soften it more and it’ll start sticking. Remember, those chia seeds are going to do their job over the next few hours, and the bites will become more firm.
After shaping and placing in the mini-cupcake wrappers, let them sit out uncovered for a handful of hours before serving. Even overnight is fine if you make them in the evening. The texture develops into a firm yet soft and melty mouthfeel if you get everything just right. For storage, place them in an airtight container.
The cool thing about this recipe is that it can be dressed up or down depending on exactly what you want. A chocolate drizzle on top would add a touch of sophistication; an entire chocolate coating would hide the surprise inside and leave people guessing at what’s coming. Food coloring would change the personality entirely, and shapes are only limited by your imagination. Enjoy!
This is an entry in the