You ever get one those moments when you think “OMG! I’m not a total moron! I’m a freaking GENIUS!!” ???
Just me? Huh. Just as well, they’re extremely rare. No need to call the authorities … yet
It’s just that sometimes the stars align perfectly and a miracle happens and shazam, you have yourself the most amazing protein
dessert breakfast fudge bar ever. Sure, I experimented a few times to get it just right but … it’s an outright unabashed chocolate orange proteingasm.
The texture is incredibly moist and fudgy. The chocolate and orange flavours just explode like a flavour supernova in your mouth. Wonderful by itself. Top it with some vanilla cinnamon casein cream and … you’d better be sitting down so you don’t swoon and hit the ground with a thud. Seriously. It’s even better if you leave it in the fridge overnight before serving. I say it every time but … you really don’t have to sacrifice flavour to make it clean and healthy nor do you have to fool yourself by using artificially enhanced powders and ingredients.
Best of all … check out the nutritional profile below. Yes, I triple checked … where’s the fat? Barely there. Look at all the fibre and protein. Now, I’m being a bit self-serving here because I’m trying to make as many protein snacks as I can that won’t derail my attempts to cut a little body fat without compromising lean muscle mass. Sound familiar? I thought I’d be clever and go chocolate free for a week as part of this whole deal. Well, that lasted all of about three hours. I mean, who was I kidding? Me? Chocolate free? Ha! Especially as I’ve been watching the World Chocolate Masters 2011 competition live online every day … *sigh*
More good news. You don’t need mad baking skills either. All you need is a
miracle food processor … and a little time to throw it all together before putting it in the oven while you head off to do something else while it bakes.
Just a suggestion. I mean, this plus fudge bars makes muscle do its stuff, right?
I used a blood orange because I love the flavour. Use your favourite orange variety but try the blood orange if you can. It’s too wonderful. Boiling the orange beforehand is the same method as used in the classic flourless orange almond cake you might be familiar with (by Claudia Roden). Normally, you’d boil the orange for an hour or two. I’ve reduced that down to 20 minutes as I’d rather keep some of that rawness and freshness of the orange. It does indeed give a better flavour.
For the cacao, you can use either a raw cacao powder or your favourite unsweetened cacao. I often use raw cacao for this stuff but yesterday I opened a fresh bag of Valrhona cacao powder. Valrhonagasm. The macros are almost identical so it makes no difference.
Pea protein gives the best result, or a 50/50 ratio of pea and micellar casein. If you use whey protein concentrate, be aware that whey does tend to dry out baked goods and results might vary depending on the brand you use. There is quite a lot of difference between them. Do not use whey isolate for baking. Just don’t. Trust me.
When you look at the recipe, you’ll notice cannellini beans as an ingredient. Say what??? Don’t panic. The bars taste nothing like beans. But they do add moisture, protein, and fibre. The bean maketh the bar. Cannellini beans are also great as they have a higher protein content than most and are a great source of fibre. The flavour is also very mild so when baked into the bars, it’s completely gone. Canned beans should be drained and rinsed well under running water.
For the casein pastry cream, I’ve used unflavoured micellar casein by Professional Whey. I love their protein powders and will never use the flavoured stuff again. No spakfilla ingredients, no funny sugar substitutes or other ingredients that sound like biological weapons. This is CLEAN folks. If you use the other flavoured stuff, the macros might be different. So factor that in, if it’s important.
Lastly, because I use unflavoured protein powders (why doesn’t everyone?), I added a little maple syrup. I like it because it’s lower in carbohydrates than sugar and frankly, you can use stevia if you like so the total carb content will be a little lower (but not much). I occasionally use stevia but I think it tastes weird so … and maple syrup has a more subtle sweetness. The orange also adds a little sweetness. These bars are not very sweet though. If you have an issue with the craving of the sugar … add more or use this as a great way to wean yourself off it. Yeah.
Yada yada yada … it’s also gluten free and nut free so run amok and enjoy!
They’re incredibly delicious. Told you. Genius.
Makes 4 to 6 bars (I know some dudes who’d eat the entire thing in one sitting … it’s all good)
Chocolate Orange Bars
1 medium orange
120 grams egg white
100 grams canned cannellini beans (drained and rinsed well)
110 grams non-fat quark or cottage cheese (< 0.1%)
30 grams unsweetened cacao
40 grams unflavoured pea or whey protein powder
40 millilitres (2 tablespoons) 100% pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon natural bitter almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Vanilla Cinnamon Casein Cream
60 grams unflavoured casein (I use Professional Whey Micellar Casein)
5 millilitres (1 teaspoon) 100% pure maple syrup
1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
cacao nibs (optional)
Preheat the oven to 165℃.
I used a 24cm x 7cm bar tin to make this, as it was the perfect size to then cut into 4 bars (or 6 smaller slices). You can use small individual molds to make bars if you prefer, or double the recipe and use a 20cm square baking dish. Whatever you do, line the tin with strips of non-stick silicon baking paper. Set aside.
Place the orange in a saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or so, until the orange is soft. Drain and set the orange aside to cool. When cooled, cut the orange into quarters and remove the white pith in the centre and any pips you find. Cut the quarters into half again. We will be using the orange, zest and all. But no pips … that’s just nasty when biting into a bar
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. This includes the cooled orange segments. Process until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the lined tin and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes. The baking time depends on the size of the tin but also your oven. You want to underbake these bars and not overbake them, so that they will keep that lovely moist, fudgy texture that melts in your mouth. They are ready if you insert a skewer into the centre and it comes out with very moist crumbs attached. They might be a little creamy but not like uncooked batter.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool, in the tin. Remove the bar gently by lifting it out of the tin using the baking paper overhang as leverage.
Cut into bars. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of days … if you don’t eat it all beforehand!
This is the texture of the bars – very moist, fudgy, and flecked with tiny delicious bits of orange. Mmmmmm … resistance is useless.
Place the casein powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup in a bowl. Add a little water, about 80 millilitres or so. Use a whisk to stir and then whisk it all until smooth. Add more water, a little at a time, until the consistency is of a thick cream. The amount of water that you need depends on the casein powder used, as they absorb liquid differently. I stopped adding water when it got to a lovely pastry cream consistency … like custard.
Cover and refrigerate the cream until ready to use. Spoon the cream on top of each bar to serve as a dessert. For diehard cacao lovers, sprinkle a few cacao nibs on top. Looks spesh, adds that little extra cacao OOOMPH!
If you’re like me, this makes a wicked post-workout breakfast
I’ve included the macros both with and without the casein cream topping. If you use a flavoured casein, you might not need the vanilla and maple syrup. If so, just add the macros for the powder you use. Easy.