Tags: Corn-Free,Gluten-Free,Refined Sugar Free,Soy-Free,Vegan
It's the start of strawberry season where I live in the rolling mountains of eastern PA. Roadside stands are popping up with strawberries for sale, the farmers markets are coming to life again, and all this leaves me feeling like I am on cloud nine. Nothing speaks to my vegan eating sensibilities more than fresh, local fruits and veggies. My absolute favorite time being that all too brief period when strawberries, in all their cheery, bright red glory, are available in abundance. And the flavor... enough to make my toes curl in happiness. So all winter when I see the sad, drab, flavorless imported strawberries in their sterile plastic containers stacked at the grocery store, I dream of warmer weather and real, luscious strawberries. And of course what to make with all the quarts and quarts I bring home and then battle to use before they *gasp* go bad. I know, let's not think of it! One of the flavor combinations I love is peanut butter with strawberries, strawberry jam to be exact. So I had been devising this recipe in my head for awhile and this weekend, with quarts of strawberries piled on my counter, it was time. I wanted to keep these bars light, cool, and refreshing... something for the summer, and for picnics 🙂 The crust is crunchy and salty, the peanut butter is fluffy and creamy, the strawberry jam a fresh pop of sweetness and all of this together is... orgasmic. There, I said it. It literally invokes that involuntary moan upon the very first bite. Normally I would say that could be trouble, but this is refined sugar-free, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, etc - so moan away people 🙂 Happy strawberry season to all! Mmmmmm...
- 1-1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 7 dates
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup almond meal or almond flour, packed
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Peanut Butter Mousse:
- 2 cups creamy peanut butter
- 1 - 13.5 oz can of coconut milk, refrigerated at least 2 hours
- 1/8 cup agave syrup, I used light
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar, or brown sugar (optional)
- salt to taste, only if your peanut butter isn't salted, mine was
Fresh Strawberry Jam:
- 1 quart of strawberries, stems removed and quartered
- 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup agave syrup, I used light
- 2 TBS lemon juice, fresh squeezed
- 1 TBS agar-agar flakes
- 1/2 cup of chopped, salted peanuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8 x 8 non-stick square cake pan with cooking spray. Place the oats, shredded coconut, dates, and salt into a food processor and process for a minute or two until everything is flour-like consistency. Add almond meal and pulse 4 to 5 times to combine. Next add the coconut oil and pulse until it just starts to come together as a dough. Sprinkle this mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Then use your fingers to gently press the crust down, leveling as needed. Make sure it is pressed in pretty well and then transfer to the oven. Bake for 13-18 minutes until the edges are golden. Set pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
When crust has cooled, place the 2 cups peanut butter, coconut milk, agave syrup, vanilla, and coconut sugar into a medium bowl. A quick tip for an easy way to measure the peanut butter is to spray your measuring cup with cooking spray first, then the pb will come out easily. The coconut sugar is optional, I know it's not readily available out there yet, add more agave or even stevia for a sweeter mousse. Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat for a couple of minutes, scraping the sides down occasionally, until everything is combined and light and fluffy. You could also use a high powered blender for this step. Scoop and pour the peanut butter mousse onto the top of the crust. Place directly into the fridge to chill.
Next, in a large saucepan, mash the strawberries (I used a potato masher, but you can use whatever you like). Add the lemon juice, agave, and agar, stir well. Bring mixture to a slow boil. I used medium heat to achieve this. Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat a bit (medium-low), and let the mix boil for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally to keep agar from sticking to the pan. After 10 minutes remove from heat and let it cool for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally to help it cool down. It doesn't need to be room temperature, but it should only be just warm as you don't want to melt the peanut butter mousse. Pour the fresh jam carefully over the top of the cooled mousse and place in the fridge to set and chill through. I let mine chill for about 3 hours. Then remove it to serve or cover with plastic wrap and place back in the fridge to enjoy later. To serve, sprinkle with the peanuts. These are best kept chilled, and only add the peanuts right before serving as they will turn greasy and brown if left in the fridge (they still taste good though). Cut bars into 2" squares, this makes 16 evenly sized bars.