Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sesame Snack Bars

sesame snack bars

I used to think that sesame snaps - you know, those cracker-thin crispy cookies made of essentially sesame seeds and sugar - were a thing of the past, until I found them in the subway station in a desperate search for a snack to prevent me from eating my own scarf or attacking anyone carrying a bagel. (It had been a long, snack-less shift.) And there they were, nestled among the energy bars and the Larabars, in the exact same packaging as ten years ago, like a well-preserved relic of my childhood.

So after years of sesame snap-less living, I devoured several on the subway ride home (instead of stealing food from passers-by). And I determined on that subway ride that I would create my own sesame snacks, because I've been having a bit of a sesame affair lately, and also, I need snacks.

unhulled sesame seeds dates, for sweetness

Being without snacks is dangerous living for me - when nothing is available in the house, I start to make bad life choices, like eating jam straight out of the jar with a fork, or devouring leftover cookies or, god forbid, going to Shoppers after the holidays to buy on-sale chocolate (REGRET. So much regret will come from this decision). So in order to avoid such poor life choices, I try to make healthy snacks on a regular(ish) basis. Because you can't really eat marmalade out of a jar and then feel good about yourself.

put it all in the food processor and blend it all up sesame snack bars, packed

And so I made these sesame snack bars. They're simple - only 3 ingredients! - and taste remarkably like the sesame snaps that inspired them, only they're easier and cheaper to make, and healthier to eat. Now that's my kind of snack.

Sesame Snack Bars
You can use any variety of date (honey, medjool) and either brown or white sesame seeds, although I prefer to use unhulled sesame seeds as they have more nutrition than the white, hulled variety. Either way, these are tasty, travel-ready snacks to have on hand.

2 cups sesame seeds (brown or white)
2 1/2 cups dried dates, packed
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Spread sesame seeds out on a large baking sheet, or on two smaller baking sheets. Make sure they're spread out evenly to ensure even toasting.

3. Toast sesame seeds in oven for 10 - 20 minutes, until slightly darker in colour and fragrant.

4. Transfer toasted sesame seeds to a food processor, then add the salt and dates. NOTE: If your dates are dry and hard, soak them in warm water for 5 - 10 minutes, until soft and malleable.

5. Blend all of the ingredients in the food processor for about 1 minute, or until the mixture begins to clump together. Test to see if it's ready by pinching together a small amount of the mixture with your fingers - if it holds together it's done.

6. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper, then dump the sesame mixture into the pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the pan. To flatten it out evenly in a pan, you can use a pastry roller or a small round glass.

7. Transfer pan to the fridge or freezer to let the mixture harden for at least 30 minutes. After the mixture has hardened, remove the mixture from the pan and cut into small bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

all natural sesame snack bars


  1. Could I use dried dates for this recipe? I live in the country and none of our locas shops have fresh ones.

    1. So sorry for the late reply! (My notifications don't always work.) The recipe uses dried dates, so not to worry! Although if they're very dry, you'll want to soak them for about 5 minutes in hot water before blending them.

  2. These look really nice and the recipe couldn't be simpler, thanks for sharing :) I guess these can be made with many kinds of variations, for example some cinnamon and orange juice to add some more Middle Eastern flavor profile :)

    1. Thanks so much! And yes, cinnamon and orange would work perfectly! However, don't use orange juice - it will make the bars come out very wet and sticky. Just add the zest of one orange though, and you'll get loads of delicious citrus flavour! If you try it out, let me know! I'd love to hear how they turn out. :)