You guys, I have a simple, sweet and salty snack recipe for you today that is delicious, if I do say so myself. Sometimes I get an idea for a new creation in my head and will not stop thinking about it until I bring it to fruition. These maple tahini snack balls are the perfect example of that.
It all started several weeks back when I took a poll on Instagram. If you follow me over there, you know that I constantly rave about my love for tahini. I was mentioning some different uses for it and then asked if anyone had tried it in a traditionally sweet recipe. Most people responded "no" so I immediately started thinking of a way I could incorporate into a snack. I decided to try to replicate the ever-so-popular oat ball and use the tahini in place of more traditional nut butters.
All About Tahini
In case you are way confused, tahini is essentially ground sesame seeds (a sesame seed "butter" if you will) that is popping up in sweet and savory recipes all over the place right now. I am thoroughly obsessed with tahini sauce on noodles, grain bowls, and in homemade salad dressings. And while I'm not really a dessert person, my interest is piqued when someone swirls tahini in brownies.
Last week in my ultimate guide to nut butter, I included tahini in the list and mentioned that it's a plant-based source of calcium along with magnesium and iron, all of which are hard to come by nutrients (especially for plant-based eaters). It adds 6 grams of protein and some satiating, heart-healthy fat with each two tablespoon serving as well. So as if there weren't already enough reasons to try it... nutrition!
Unlike some of the other more popular nut butters on the market, tahini is not typically eaten straight from the spoon because it's on the bitter side (I warned you). It does however transform into pure gold when mixed with something sweet and spicy - or in the case of these, sweet and salty.
Here's the line-up for what you need to make these happen:
Old-fashioned rolled oats + quick oats (if you have them)
Ground flaxseed. I love this Manitoba Milling Co brand because it's smooth, almost like a protein powder instead of gritty like the traditional versions (full disclosure: I'm a brand ambassador for MM).
With energy ball recipes, it's best to use a combination of whole rolled oats and some "quick" oats, but instead of buying two different kinds - especially since I much prefer the rolled oats for breakfasts - I just give half of them a whirl in my food processor until they look like quick oats. This will make your final product more cohesive, as opposed to crumbly.
Once you are set with your oats, you will simply combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl, all of the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then mixed them up until the result is a nice "dough" of sorts. This step is always a little awkward because you will think it's impossible to mix together, but use the flat side of a wooden spoon to really work the wet ingredients into the dry. They will come together - trust me! Once you get everything mixed well, you will want to cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest so the oats can soak up some more moisture and it will be much easier to handle.
After 20 minutes, portion into one inch balls using a small cookie scoop to make them uniform. This is definitely the most efficient way I have tried and also results in less sticky hands along the way. An optional but fun step is to roll each ball in sesame seeds. I really loved the extra crunch/texture this provided and it also looks really pretty!
The flavor of these is nutty and complex. As much as I love classic peanut butter, I eat it a lot so these were a nice change and the tahini really comes through. Plus they are a breeze to throw together! The recipe scales well too, so feel free to double it like I often do.
Maple Tahini Snack Balls
Yield: 10 balls | Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes (mostly hands off)
Note: This recipe has been updated since it's original version. After making these several times, I decided that the dates were unnecessary and added an extra step so I removed them to make it easier and quicker without impacting the final product!
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
Place 1/2 of the oats in a food processor and pulse until it resembles quick oats. Add these to a bowl with the other 1/2 of the oats along with the flaxseed and salt. Mix well.
In a separate smaller bowl, combine the tahini, maple syrup and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover bowl and put in the refrigerator to rest for 20 minutes.
Using a small cookie scoop, portion into one inch balls and roll in sesame seeds.
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