Second day of school. I offer this rebuttal: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!
We’re making the leap from pie pans to lunchboxes. No biggie.
It’s really not so bad – fall is my favourite time of year. I get all nostalgic and organizational and back-to-school pumped, without the teenage angst. (I’ve managed to hang on to my teenage skin, however.) Besides, right now I’m poolside (OK, the inflatable in my mom’s back yard that’s mostly a watery grave for hundreds of bug carcasses), Coke slurpee in hand, and the car thermometer reads 34 degrees. It’s still summer, despite these 6 1/2 hour interruptions in the middle of the day. The difference is I’m back to paying attention, to catching up and clearing out and organizing and noting deadlines in red on my calendar. Schedules constrict, expectations rise and all that.
Aaaaaand I was just strafed by a sluggish wasp, who triggered me to grab madly for the bug zapper, upending my slurpee onto my laptop and into my shoe. Maybe I’m ready for summer to be over.
So. These bars. Meaty dates and toasted nuts. Pulse. Press. That’s it. Instant gratification.
Ever since making that peach-mascarpone tart with the pat-in date-pecan crust, and seeing Shauna and Danny make date-hazelnut truffles with chocolate coconut ganache using a similar filling, using sticky dates to bind their innards together, I’ve wanted to play with the combo further. Turns out it’s essentially a Larabar – those energy bars made with dates and nuts and not much else. You can actually read -and understand- the ingredient list. But also? They don’t get much easier to make.
Google says similar bars have been made around these interwebs; some look too smooth and pasty to me, some too fruit-heavy, others made with raw cashews, which I wouldn’t choose over a toasted almond or pecan. (Or cashew, for that matter.) I began my experimentation with (roughly) equal parts pitted soft Medjool dates (you can find them in the produce section – those blocks of hardened ones in the baking aisle will give your processor too much of a workout) and toasted almonds and pecans (combined) along with a pinch of salt. Pulsed just enough to hold them together while maintaining a compelling texture and crunch. It worked swimmingly.
So I got a little crazy. I added a handful of shredded coconut and a squeeze of lime. (I would have added the zest had I not left my rasp somewhere.) Voila – coconut-lime energy bars. Seriously.
Pulse, press, cut. Make fancy shapes if you want. Or little marble-sized bonbons. Go nuts.
I made a third batch, this time spiking it with a spoonful of cocoa, making it chocolate. The dates are sweet enough, but a dribble of honey made this version less crumbly. (There’s one hiding in the back, in a more chocolatey shade of brown.) I want to do these again with peanuts for a real-food version of an Eatmore bar. Without sugar! Just dates! Imagine! This may just preempt tomorrow’s to-do list.
Bonus: because they’re not baked, they don’t really go stale. You can wrap them individually and stash in a jar, or your glove compartment, or your desk. And if you really want to prolong their life, they could get stashed away in the freezer. And on mornings when you have no idea what you’re going to put into the lunchbox, a batch can be made in about as much time as it takes to pour a bowl of cereal. And then you’ll be that mom (or dad, or person, or kid) who makes their own energy bars.
One less thing.
Easy (Grain-free!) Date-Nut Energy Bars
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates (about 15 dates)
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds and pecan halves (any ratio – or try toasted hazelnuts or cashews)
1/3 cup shredded coconut and a bit of grated lime zest and the juice of half a lime
2 Tbsp. cocoa, 1 Tbsp. honey and 1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries or blueberries and a drop of vanilla
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dates, nuts and salt until well blended and coarsely ground – you should be able to squeeze it together in a clump. If you like, pulse or stir in any add-ins.
Press into a parchment-lined 8×8-inch baking pan and let sit at room temperature or refrigerate until easier to cut into bars. (Alternatively, roll the mixture into small bite-sized balls.) Leave in the pan or wrap individually to store. Makes about 12 bars.
September 04 2013 09:04 pm | snacks