There are some kitchen tools that are life-changing: the food processor and blender set paved the way for smoothies and raw desserts, and now, I am love using the dehydrator for drying nuts and making raw bread. The dehydrator I am using is an Excalibur 5-tray model. It emanates a low resonant rumble in the background that you will eventually learn to ignore. A word of caution: please remember to plug in a step-down transformer when using U.S-made appliances in Singapore or other parts of the world, or the appliance will quite literally go up in smoke.
This time I experimented with fruit leather, specifically banana leather. I used pretty ripe bananas, sliced them into 1/4-inch thick coins, sprayed them with lemon juice, and stuck them in the dehydrator at 115 degrees Fahrenheit for about 14 hours. I was hoping for crunchy banana chips but was greeted with trays of pliable banana leather instead. I read that using unripe cooking bananas, either green bananas or plaintains, promotes the formation of crunch over leather. Perhaps the chemical explanation may be related to content of starch vs sugar, with starch molecules in unripe bananas drying out to give a stronger network of bonds, and thus crunch factor. That was just a wild hypothesis.
With an army of banana leather and the snack bar requiring replenishment, I set out to make energy balls incorporating the leather, along with a mix of nut and oat flour. The outcome was a supple dough of splendid stickiness – a desirable quality that makes the balls attract their coatings like magnets attracting iron filings. I highly encourage you to take out all your superfood powders and roll them generously; for what are bliss balls without the variety of colors? Also, since the bananas are dried, their concentrated sweetness means only a minimal amount of added sweetener is needed, if at all.
These banana leather balls – or bars – have a lemony bite to them because of the initial treatment in lemon water. It was unintentional, but I think the citrus edge rounds out the sweetness of this balls nicely. You can also roll the dough out flat with a rolling pin and slice them into bars if preferred. It will look and taste exactly like Banana Bread Larabars!
P.S. I liked the spirulina and sesame ones best. What coatings would you choose?
- ½ cup almond flour
- ¼ cup (30 g) oat flour
- 2 tablespoons hazelnut flour
- ¾ cup (90 g) banana leather, from 3-4 large bananas (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon date paste
- 1 teaspoon ginger syrup or additional date paste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, combine flours. You may use your own nut flour blend, totaling about ¾ - 1 cup.
- In the food processor, whirl the banana leather, syrup and spices. Add in the flour, then process until a large sticky ball of dough forms.
- Pinch out golf ball size of dough and roll to form a ball. About 30 grams for each ball yields a perfect size snack. Roll in nut, seed or powder coatings of choice. Suggested ideas include cacao powder, cacao nibs, maca powder, spirulina, dried coconut, sesame, flax, raspberry powder.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It will firm up once it has been refrigerated.