Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sweet Sesame Adzuki Bean Crumb Bars

This recipe features my favorite bean:  the adzuki bean!  As I mentioned in a previous post, I typically associate adzuki beans with dessert and figured they would make a unique substitute for the traditional fruit or jam used in crumb bars.  The inclusion of sesame seeds was inspired by jin deui (or sesame balls).  They aren't just used for garnish here.  I think the combined flavor of sesame seeds and adzuki beans is something really special.  If you're short on time, feel free to use store-bought sweet red bean bean paste such as Shirakiku's, which can be found in Asian grocery stores.  Just make sure that the only ingredients are adzuki beans, sugar, and water.  (Some may contain high fructose corn syrup...yuck)

Makes 16 squares

1/3 cup dry adzuki beans (soaked in water overnight) or 1 cup of canned adzuki beans
1/2 cup vegan granulated sugar (or your sweetener of choice; adjust based on your desired sweetness level)
A pinch of salt
  1. Cook the pre-soaked beans by boiling them in water for about an hour until tender, or with a pressure cooker. (3 minutes once pressure is reached; natural release)
  2. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add the sugar and salt and let simmer until the sugar is melted and the mixture has thickened.
  3. Mash the mixture using a fork or potato masher.  Add a little bit of water to the mixture if it's too thick (i.e., it looks like it won't spread easily).  You can also use a food processor or blender to get a smoother paste.
  4. Transfer to a bowl to cool.  You should end up with about a cup of bean paste.  
Crust & Crumb
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup black or yellow sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8x8-inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, sesame seeds, and salt. 
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, water, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 
  5. Divide the dough in half. Press half of the dough in the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1 cup of the bean paste evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining half of dough evenly over the filling and then press down gently. 
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until slightly crisp and golden on top.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing into 16 squares.

I thought that these were wonderful. Protein-filled desserts?  Yes, please!  I could eat the filling on its own, but the crust and crumb layers provided a nice contrasting texture.  The filling doesn't firm up during the baking process, so what you get are lovely, moist bites of smooth filling coupled with crumb bar goodness.  They were delicious fresh out of the oven and even more so the next day.  I brought some to work to share and received great feedback including recommendations for me to sell these!  Too bad I only bake for free.  :)