More energy bars: Laralike bars
Like I said–Thursday is my day off, ergo, Thursday I blog like a madwoman.
In between odd-ending-up attempts at a faux-Clif-bar, I also tried the same author’s version of a Larabar.
Anyone who hasn’t tried Larabars yet–just, wow. They have about 3 or 4 ingredients, mostly just fruit and nuts and some spices, and they are yummy. They are also expensive. Partially, I’m guessing, because they are entirely fruit and nuts and don’t have any kind of cheap filler-y ingredients.
So again, here’s the original recipe I worked from:
Very Cherry Bars (use as a template for almost any combination)
LARA BARS use a multi-layer package that keeps out UV light and oxygen, which, in turn, maintains freshness without the use of preservatives. I use plain old plastic wrap and my refrigerator, then pop one in my bag when I’m ready to go.
1/4 cup chopped dates (roughly chopped whole dates, not pre-chopped)
1/4 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
1/3 cup whole pecans, almonds or walnuts
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Set out two pieces of plastic wrap for shaping and wrapping the bars. Do this first; you’ll have sticky fingers when you need it.
Place the dates and cherries in a food processor. Pulse until processed to a paste (photo 1). Transfer paste to a medium bowl (don’t clean processor).
Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until finely chopped (photo 2). Add the nuts, along with the cinnamon, to the bowl with the fruit paste (photo 3). Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste (just keep squishing, it’s fun; brings back memories of play-dough; see photo 4).
Divide mixture in half. Place each half on each of one of the sheets of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic around each bar and start squishing into a bar shape form, 3 and 1/2 inches long, 1 inch wide and 3/4-inch thick); press against countertop to flatten bottom side, flattening top side and ends with flat of hand (photo 5) Tightly wrap the plastic around each bar and store in the refrigerator. Makes 2 bars.
Okay, this time I did not follow as diligently…but the results were good anyway! I tripled the recipe right off the bat, since I figured this kind of recipe probably couldn’t go too wrong, and I knew I wouldn’t have time to try anything like this again for a while. Also, I wasn’t paying enough attention to the directions when I assembled my ingredients, and I ended up pulsing the fruit and the nuts together in the food processor. It honestly didn’t seem to hurt the end result. (One less step is always an improvement in my book!) (EDIT: Today I learned, I think, why she wants us to do the nuts separately; I must have over-processed the nuts on one batch, because the bars came out VERY oily. So beware. The second batch, with almonds and less processing, were much more pleasant in that regard…)
The original author mentions that most recipes she sees people have way too many nuts and not enough fruit. I honestly think that even hers could use more fruit if it’s to be really like a Lara. But on the other hand, I’m fairly sure the real Larabars use raw nuts, and she suggests toasted ones (which I used), which I suspect gives a more “nutty” flavor in the end. (They really are good!)
The only unpleasant thing I discovered about these is that when you shape them into bars yourself, especially before wrapping them and squaring them off, they bear a close and unfortunate resemblance to dog poop. But only in appearance. 🙂
I also chose to roll each bar in oat bran before wrapping them, which makes the outside a little less sticky.
So all in all, I’d say this recipe was a success. And by the way, the author also suggests that you don’t really need to make bars out of them per se, you can make little balls or truffle-things or rounds or whatever you want. These make good food-on-the-go…
p.s. this recipe also resembles one from the old Moosewood cookbook–the dessert one, I think–that had a recipe for “Nutty Fruit Nuggets”–I never made that recipe the way I was supposed to either, since I made it to take to a school function and we were required to be nut-free. I suspect my tactic–substituting a combination of oat bran and wheat germ for the nuts–would work equally well with these bars and actually cut some of the fat too.