The Christmas season has officially passed. At least for me and now that we have a second to breathe I thought I'd share the recipe for the bars that I sent to a few family members. A few years back, we received a whole box of delicious holiday yummies, that we of course gobbled up in a matter of days. This was my inspiration for this year's gifts seeing that we were on a pretty tight budget. I honestly feel that some home made goodies makes the best presents anyway.
I have done my fair share of bar making. These used to be a staple in my house for breakfast, breaks and lunch throw-in's. I've tried probably 10-15 different recipes and a few of my own. Never really loving the end result. Don't get me wrong, they all tasted wonderful, but it seemed like a lot of work and modification for something that tasted pretty simple out of the package. So after searching out something for my dad, given his sometime erratic dietary requirements, I stumbled upon a website detailing the recipe for a very simple, very wholesome Lara-type bar. While never actually eating these bars before, I figured the simplicity of 4-5 ingredients was enough to slim down what I had been doing prior and reinvent my own wheel. I checked my cupboards for the goods and found I was missing whole dates. Now let me warn you, before you set out on a date hunt around the holidays...just go to Whole Foods. Surprising, I know. It was the last place of 8 places I visited that actually had whole pitted dates at a reasonable price. If my memory serves me correct they were $2.69 for 8 oz. With all this being said, if you are fortunate enough to have a Winco around...just head there. Save you a lot of time and money. I do miss that store....
Back to the cupboard. I glance at my pitiful rendition of a food processor. Years back I purchased the blender/processor duo. While the blender does it's job, the supposed food processor is an entirely different story. I don't even think that thing would chop garlic anymore. Not to mention I feel i like i need to put in earplugs to protect my eardrums from the horrilble high pitched noise it makes when I push the 'On' button. My child starts crying, my husband leaves the room and even my dog buries his head in the pillows. I was feeling a little down but then I had a vision of a food processor in a cabinet of this house that we were watching. Reinstating my motivation, I borrowed that Cuisinart 11-cup food processor and got to work.
1/4 c. chopped dates (you chop them...don't buy the prechopped variety coated with sugar)
1/4 c dried tart berry (I used cherry flavored cranberries)
1/3 c. chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts
Dash of cinnamon
Chop your nuts in the food processor till desired consistency is reached. I liked mine a little more on the little pebble side than big chunk side. Pour into bowl and dash your cinnamon. Mix.
Add dates and cranberries and process till a paste is formed. Upon initial blending and having prior use of such a poor excuse for a food processor, I thought this paste would never happen. I stopped at small pieces and added dried prunes and Voila! Paste.
*note*I did find a little more fruit was necessary but perhaps that's because upon the first go around I didn't get my 'paste' and settled for tiny chopped bits. I figure the more fruit the better though as I LOVE dried fruit.
Take paste and scrape out into bowl. Prepare plastic saran wrap on counter for bar formation. Mix and knead with your hands till all pieces have been coated thoroughly and you're able to make a bar like formation. *note* nobody ever said you had to do bars. you can do balls or fun christmas shapes if you so desire.
Place in plastic wrap and cover tightly. Store in the fridge until you're ready to devour these little delicious treats! They taste so good I seriously though they might be bad for you!
Other varieties I prepared:
Added sunflower seeds and flax seeds to a grinder and made a seed flour almost. Sprinkled in my bars to up the ante.
Peanuts and chocolate chips. Dash of vanilla and you have Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
Tropical variety fruit and dates pureed with a sprinkle of coconut and nutmeg.
The options are truly endless but check out this website for more!