A month ago I posted a recipe for the Pumpkin Seed-Sesame Crunch Bars which were a hit at my New Year’s open house. For some reason, I can’t stop playing around with this recipe! My goal is to make the bars firmer and crunchier. Today’s bars stray quite a bit from last month’s, although the concept is the same: a crisp, candy-like bar, full of seeds, and modeled on the halvah made from sesame seeds which is popular in the Balkan countries and parts of the Middle East. Today’s version is inspired by an Indian treat called gajjak, which is flavored exotically with saffron, cardamom and rose water. Like the original recipe, today’s version is a snap to make (the only hard part is the shopping). Rose water is a common ingredient in sweets from the Middle East, particularly Iran, and east to India. You’re most likely to find it in stores specializing in foods from those regions, although a well-stocked gourmet foods store also should have it. If you do find it, it’s not expensive and has a long shelf life. In any case, it’s an interesting addition to this recipe, but not essential–so don’t drive across town just to buy some. Let me know how you like this version (recipe after the jump).
SAFFRON SESAME CRUNCH BARS
(Yields a 9-inch square pan, 16 small bars)
2 cups toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 cup brown rice crisps cereal
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, or good quality oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
tiny pinch of salt
1. Lightly oil a 9-inch square or similar size baking pan
2. Measure 1 cup sunflower seeds into the bowl of your food processor. Process until you have a coarse meal.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine this meal with the brown rice crisps, the sesame seeds and the remaining sunflower seeds. Mix well.
4. Heat the Earth Balance or oil in a sauce pan until it is hot and bubbly, add the rice syrup, maple syrup, cardamom, saffron, rose water and salt and stir together. Heat until this is also hot and bubbly.
5. Pour the hot syrup mixture into the seed mixture and stir well until the seed mixture is evenly coated with the syrup mixture.
6. Quickly pour this into your oiled pan. Oil your hands and lightly press the mixture into place, so the bars will be even and smooth.
7. Cool well before cutting into 16 bars.