Sure, recipes for these types of bars are already widely available. But, I have a funny feeling that there are going to be mannnnny, many variations of this to come out of my kitchen from hear on out – so I figure, why not just start a mass date bar recipe page to start? I like to get creative with flavors, as you all know…maybe one of these will tickle your fancy, too! I mean, once you make these bars once, you’ll be addicted. They are so easy, so tasty, awesomely versatile, and…well…you’ll eat them so fast. If you like Larabars, you’re likely to like these…however, if you’re like me and are a slave to marketing, these will not replace Larabars. Who doesn’t see those amazing Larabar labels and buy at least one every time they’re in the store? I hope I’m not the only one with that problem.
They are, however, a fun and inexpensive dessert, treat, or snack when you don’t necessarily want a full-on Larabar. Granted, that’s because I roll them into small balls. You could make them bars. I just haven’t figured out the trick to that. Yet. Based on research, I think if I didn’t simmer the dried fruit first, I’d have a thicker paste. I’ll have to try this in the future!
If you’re expecting pretty pictures to go along with this post, get your hopes down right now. They’re brown balls of dates. I don’t care how you plate them, they’re not that attractive.
Not only that, but if you want to hear a secret, these pictures are all from when I made the cinnamon-raisin ones yesterday. I guess I’ll throw in that variation, too. Why not?
Cherry-Orange-Almond Date Bars (uhh…actually, they’re balls.)
makes: however many you want
(okay, I’ll quit with the sarcasm. If you’re going for the ball-technique, you should get about 10ish that are around 1″ in diameter. I tried making bars and got about 5, slightly smaller than your average Larabar. That was messy, so I turned that into 10 balls.)
- 3/4 c. pitted dates
- 1/2 c. dried sweet cherries
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. ground almonds, toasted – mine were salted
- 1/2 t. almond extract
- zest and juice of half an orange
- pinch cinnamon
- 1 T. flax seeds
In a medium saucepan, combine your water, dates, and dried cherries. Simmer approximately ten minutes, or until softened.
Drain excess liquid into a small, separate container. Depending on how long you simmered for, there might not be much…I’ve found it really depends on the dates you use. The first time I used Price Chopper brand, and they were already quite soft – leaving me with lots of liquid. This time, I used Sunmaid (or Sunkist?) and they were a bit harder, requiring more simmering, and hence absorbed more water so that I didn’t really have any excess liquid to speak of.
In a food processor, puree the dates & cherries until smooth. If you do have excess liquid, add just enough so that you have a smooth but still thick paste. You may not need to add any.
Chill the mixture about 20 minutes (though longer is fine, or – you could choose to not chill at all. Whatever floats your boat) and either spread into a stylish tupperware in hopes that forming bars will be a success:
I’m thinking more nuts might make them easier to deal with? I’ll probably try that next.
The Cinnamon-Raisin variation, for those interested:
- 1 c. dates
- 1/4 c. golden raisins
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. ground cashews, toasted
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1 T. flax seeds
That’s how I made them the first time – but next time (there will be one – I do love me some cinnamon raisin) I’d do 3/4 c. dates, 1/2 c. raisins, reduce the vanilla to 1/2 t.
While i still love the above technique, I use the following if I’m looking for something I little firmer, and more “Lara-esque”
- 1/2 c. dried fruit
- 1/3 c. nuts
Process the fruit to a puree – dump in a bowl. Add the nuts to the processor, and grind. Add everything together, and voila! Mix it all up with your hands.
The variations I’ve done:
- Cinnamon-Raisin: 1/4 c. dates, 1/4 c. golden raisins, 1/3 c. cashews, cinnamon
- Coconut-Macadmia: 1/4 c. dates, 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/3 c. raw macadamias
- Peanut-Butter Banana: 1/4 c. dates, 2 T. currants, 2 T. dried bananas, 1/3 c. roasted & salted peanuts