Are you ready for what I'm convinced is the most fun treat ever?? Birthday cake bars are here! These adorable little bars are delightfully indulgent, super nostalgic, and made with only whole food ingredients (other than the sprinkles... hehe).
My birthday was last month, and I had planned to post these then as a special little present to myself. Then instead, I spent the entire month migrating to my brand new website (which I'm thrilled about, but moving content over was a total nightmare). Anyways, here they are, a month late. Happy birthday and happy brand new website to me!
The flavor profile of these bars is totally nostalgic and whimsical. They're based on a classic vanilla birthday cake. Doesn't that remind you of childhood birthday parties with big, absurdly decorated sheet cakes?? These bars feature a lot of vanilla, a bit of almond, and colorful sprinkles, i.e. everyone's elementary school birthday party dream.
But unlike sheet cake, these bars are 100% great for your body! They're vegan and made with whole foods. They're also naturally sweetened and mostly fruit-sweetened, plus all of the fat comes from nuts and they're loaded with protein. Now obviously the sprinkles violate those conditions, and you can leave them out if you feel strongly about avoiding any refined sugar, but I'm pretty sure that life is always better with sprinkles. Can you guess what wonderful, whole-food ingredients go into these beauties??
As you guys have probably noticed, I love making desserts with non-traditional dessert ingredients. Avocado mousse? Date blondies? Date cookies? Chick pea blondies?? It's all fair game. But these bars feature my #1 greatest dessert secret: chick peas! If you've never made chick pea desserts before, prepare to have your mind blown!
I know it sounds completely weird, but chick peas add a wonderful creamy texture to desserts, and they really have virtually no taste. I first got excited about them in blondies, and have made many (oh so many!) batches of chick pea blondies. But I've recently seen some chick pea "cookie dough" creations around Instagram, which got me thinking about a no-bake chick pea treat.
And let me tell you, it works beautifully! Chick peas (firmed up with a bit of almond flour) form the upper layer of these bars. The result is somewhere between unbaked cookie dough and cheesecake... sinfully decadent, wonderfully creamy, and good for the body too. Thank you, chick peas!
As you can see from the photos, these bars have two layers: a chewy crust and a creamy filling. The base of these bars is my go-to option for a no-bake crust: dates + nuts! It works wonderfully. Here I've used almonds to echo the very subtle almond taste of classic birthday cakes. I like to add just a bit of coconut oil to help the crust set up in the fridge.
The top layer of these bars is where the chick peas come in! It's just chick peas, almond flour, and a bit of maple syrup for sweetness, plus vanilla and almond extracts, and a tiny bit of coconut oil to help it firm up. And the sprinkles, of course.
And that's it! These birthday cake bars are made basically of beans and nuts. Totally cool, and totally absurdly delicious. These bars are easy too! Both the crust and the filling are made in the food processor; you don't even need to wash it in between. Just smooth each layer into an 8x8 pan, pop it in the fridge overnight, and slice them the next day. The only hard part is waiting while the bars chill.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Because these adorable treats come together so quickly, I hope they'll become a go-to in your house. We've been enjoying them as a nourishing dessert AND for lunch! They're really no different than a protein bar in terms of their ingredients, so eating them multiple times a day is clearly the right move.
As an added bonus, these bars keep great. They're fine in the fridge for a week, or you can freeze them for longer storage. They'd make a great homemade gift for anyone, whether it's their birthday or not, and you can easily make them a day or two in advance.
I'm so incredibly excited about this recipe and I can't wait for you to try them! I hope these make all your elementary school birthday party wishes come true. Now where are the party favors???
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
These adorable birthday cake bars are a totally nostalgic remake of classic vanilla cake. But they're actually good for the body, made with only whole-food ingredients. Can you guess the secret ingredient for that creamy, dreamy vanilla filling??