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No-Bake Sesame Peanut Chews

No-Bake Sesame Peanut Chews

This recipes is excerpted and adapted from Good & Sweet: A New Way to Bake with Naturally Sweet Ingredients, by Brian Levy, 2022, Avery


These chewy treats, based on the Bravanese laddu (a Somali confection) are really my kind of sweet snack. They remind me of those crunchy sesame bars sold at delis around New York City, but these are much easier on your teeth (they are soft and slightly chewy), and of course they aren’t loaded with corn syrup and white sugar. The peanut and cardamom add a lovely richness. And these happen to be vegan, gluten-free, and require no baking!

What makes it sweet? The cardamom helps to highlight and complexify the sugars contributed by the dates and natural peanut butter in this recipe.



1 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (125 g) 

 ½ teaspoon ground cardamom  

1 1/3 cups Medjool dates, pitted and chopped  (200 g)

 ½ cup natural unsalted roasted peanut butter, mixed well  (125 g)

 ¼ teaspoon salt  



In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds and cardamom over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the seed mixture to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

In a food processor, pulse-grind half of the sesame seeds—you can eyeball the amount here; precision isn’t necessary—to a fine powder (don’t overgrind, or you’ll end up with tahini paste!). Return them to the bowl with the unground seeds.

In a food processor, combine the dates, peanut butter, and salt and process until smooth and homogeneous, about 1½ minutes. You want it to come together to form a ball; if it’s too dry, add up to 4 teaspoons of room-temperature water—1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing after each addition—until it comes together in a mass. Add the sesame seeds and pulse until the mixture resembles golden sand. Scrape any remaining peanut butter/date mixture from the sides and bottom of the processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to make sure everything is fully combined.

Line a large cutting board with a sheet of parchment paper. Empty the mixture onto the paper, squeeze and pat to form a slightly flattened rectangular shape. Lay another sheet of parchment (the size of the cutting board) over the paste. Use a rolling pin to flatten the paste into a rough rectangle about 3/8 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, until the top surface feels dry, not sticky, 30 minutes or more.

Use a large knife to cut it into diamonds or squares. For diamonds, cut parallel lines 1 inch apart in the long direction, then cut diagonal parallel lines 1 inch apart. There will be some messy edge bits for you to enjoy before serving. Store in an airtight container, with parchment between layers, at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Makes 20 to 25 pieces

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