Everybody loves Larabars (and no, I can't figure out how to do the umlaut on my computer; can you?). Whole foodists love them for their simple ingredient lists, vegetarians and potentially even vegans love them, busy people love them, gym bunnies love them, kids love them, moms love them. I'm not sure how locavores feel about them (unless you live in CA where it must be nice and easy and guilt-free to be a locavore), but I bet that deep down they sort of love them too. In fact, I can only think of one segment of the population that doesn't love them (besides maybe people with nut allergies): cheapskates. Cheapskates might love them too; they just don't know whether they do or not. Because they've never actually been able to gulp down the idea of shelling out 2 bucks for one bar at Target.
I confess that I don't think I've ever had a real Larabar. In fact, I've been putting off this post because I've been meaning to go somewhere and actually buy a Larabar so that I could see if my own measure up. But I haven't. There are many reasons for this; some don't even have to do with price, like that by the end of my errand day I would pretty much rather have someone drill pictures in my skull than participate in that joyous activity called "wandering around the store looking for Larabars."
And then one day while eating a homemade Larabar, I realized that I didn't care if they tasted the same as the store-bought ones (though judging from the ingredient lists, they probably do) because these taste dang good.
I bought my dates from the bulk bins at the co-op in town and they were quite affordable as they are not super heavy. They had to be pitted. I was concerned that this would be a deeply painful experience and that I would never want to do it again. Turns out pitting a date is actually very easy. Generally the pit is eager to come out. You slice the date up the side and take the pit out.
It looks like a little pecan,
but I've heard that it's hard as stone. I don't wish to find out. Also, as a very serious side tip, don't leave a pile or bowl of pecan-looking pits on your table if you have young children who like nuts. They will come along and try to eat them and possibly break their teeth out. I don't know this from experience (thankfully), but it was something I realized could easily happen when I left my pile of pits on the table and Savannah came in asking me if she could eat the "nuts." It took me a minute to figure out what she meant and then I was very glad she had asked. So don't follow my bad and potentially dangerous example and please dispose of your pits immediately.
As one final note about dates, they also come with a little top part. It looks like this...
and though I didn't try to bite it, I pinched it with a fingernail and it seemed pretty darn hard too. So if you're pitting your dates, be sure you don't get any of those in with them.
Now that I've made pitting dates sound like a guaranteed trip to the dentist to restore your 17 cracked teeth, which makes purchasing a Larabar seem like an absolute steal, let's move on the recipe.
adapted from Foodie with Family
Prep time: 10 minutes
Set time: 30 minutes
Cost: $2.90 or about .50/long bar
(dates: 1.50, almonds: .75, chocolate chips: .65)
Note: The peanut butter is optional. I've found that you don't necessarily need it if you use a soft oily nut like cashews, but I did use it when I made these with the almonds. So make up your stuff and then see if you need a little extra moisture or not.
2 C whole, pitted dates
1 C raw or toasted almonds or cashews (my favorite, but they were both good) or probably whatever nut you like
1/2 C dark chocolate chips
1 Tbsp peanut butter, option
Put you nuts and chocolate chips in the food processor and pulse until they're crumbly.
Take them out and set aside.
Put only the dates in food processor and process until they start to come together in a delightfully sticky ball.
Add nuts/chocolate back in to food processor and process until it's all incorporated.
(This was with the almonds which are drier, but evenso if you squeeze this with your hand, it will keep its shape.)
If it still seems too crumbly, add the peanut butter and pulse until incorporated.
Note: Perhaps you could just throw it all in the food processor together. It seems like it should work and that you'd end up with the same product, but this is how the original recipe instructed me to do it and it came out wonderfully and--cheaper or not--these are still somewhat pricey ingredients, so I've been afraid to try just throwing it all in together for fear it would be wonky and no one would want to eat it. Let me know if you try it.
Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper (for easy removal). Press finished product into the pan. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Cut and eat.
(I went for the smaller squares instead of the longer bars here.)
Tip: I store these in a bag or Tupperware in the fridge. They last a long time (at least a couple of weeks, but I'm betting much longer). If you want to actually have them on hand when you need them (instead of having everyone eat them because they're there), freeze them. If you stack them in layers, put a sheet of parchment or wax paper between.