This is a fun and easy recipe that even toddlers can help their mothers make! The ingredients are flexible and are basic muesli ingredients that most of us have in the cupboard anyway. Different nuts and dried fruit can be used in the recipe to create different flavours, textures etc. Due to the sticky dates, the ingredients stay firmly together without crumbling.
To make the biscuits look more refined, the nuts can be ground or chopped into various textures in order to give the biscuits a smoother, less chunky look. For instance: grind the brazil nuts to a coarse flour and finely chop the pumpkin seeds. Keep the sunflower seeds whole, since they are small, but chop the almonds with a knife into fairly even pieces. The dried apricots can also be added to the dates, water and oil when blending into the liquid part of the recipe - the apricots will simply aid the dates to hold the biscuits together.
½ cup (130 g) chopped dates
½ cup water
1 Tbsp walnut / hazelnut / rice bran oil
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup (100 g) finely chopped dried (moist) apricots
½ cup (100 g) almonds, chopped
½ cup (100 g) brazil nuts, chopped
½ cup (90 g) pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
4 Tbsp (45 g) sunflower seeds
4 Tbsp buckwheat seeds, crushed
2 Tbsp goji berries
1 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds
1 Tbsp finely grated zest of mandarin / orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1. Place the dates, water, oil and lemon juice in a mixer and blend until smooth. This mixture will hold the ingredients together to make a batter.
2. Place the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix well.
3. Pour the date mixture into the mixing bowl and stir until mixed.
4. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up a little and to give the flax seeds and buckwheat seeds the chance to form a sticky substance with the moisture in the batter.
5. Tip the batter onto a sheet of unbleached wax baking paper. With the back of a large spoon, press the mixture firmly down to a thickness of about 2 cm.
6. Take a biscuit (cookie) cutter and press shapes from the batter. Press the mixture firmly into the biscuit cutter before transferring to another sheet of baking paper (or Paraflexx sheet for the dehydrator). Carefully push the shaped biscuit free from the cutter. Continue making shapes until all the batter is used up - simply spoon the last bit of batter into the cutter, press into shape and transfer to the sheet with the other biscuits.
7. Dry the biscuits out. If you use a dehydrator, dry out for about 4 hours until the biscuits are firm but still retain the moisture from the dried fruit. If you use an oven, set the baking temperature to 40º C (104º F), and dry out for about 2 hours until firm.
Makes about 23 biscuits.
You can change the dried fruit in the recipe to give the biscuits different flavours. Try making berry biscuits by using dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries and goji berries. A Caribbean flavour can be achieved by using dried pineapple, paw-paw, coconut and for the spices, add vanilla instead of the spices above.
Laurinda Erasmus is a vegan chef and author of a vegan recipe book, called Benessere well-being: vegan & sugar-free eating for a healthy life-style, by Quinoa Publishing. The book has over 520 recipes, each with a colour photograph, taken by the author herself. The book won a gold medal at the Living Now Book Awards in New York, USA. She is passionate about the vast possibilities of creating plant-based meals, the increased wellness and energy through plant nutrition and making a smaller impact on our precious ecosystem. Through her book and vegan classes, she shows healthy and fun ways of how to bring more plant-based meals into one's diet. She also travels extensively, always collecting new recipes and re-writing them as vegan dishes. She shares her tips for vegan travellers and vegan travel recipes on her blogsite http://veganwellbeing.wordpress.com/ and to view her book see http://www.veganwellbeing.net/.