Who needs a Larabar?

Once a week the kids and I drop my oldest son off at Woodland Park Academy in Grand Blanc and then make a short trek across town to the Meijer’s off Hill Rd. They have such a great selection of organic produce and healthy food choices that I just love supporting them. While we’re there the kids get the opportunity to choose one small “treat” to bring home. It makes for a happy child and I get the pleasure of watching to see how much they delight in making their choice. However, I have to admit something. Mommy gets a treat too! Hehe. Of course I do right? I mean who doesn’t love going to the store and bringing home a treat to enjoy later that day? Sooooooo… my guilty pleasure? Larabars!!! They are so delicious and flavorful and simple and and and. I usually buy 2, ok maybe 3, and savor their most wonderful taste throughout the week. This past Monday I was browsing recipes and came across a friggin fantastic website that lists how to make all the varieties of Larabars yourself. What?!? True story. I decided to make the ginger ones because it’s getting chilly and I love to spice things up. But there are SO many more to choose from. Check them out here at http://leitesculinaria.com.  I was so pleased with how these turned out that I will definitely make them again. The only thing I would change as far as how I made the recipe would be to make them a little bit thicker, more like the real thing. Who needs a Larabar when you have a good old fashion food processor and some jazzy mixing skillz? Ba-Bam! 

Gingerbread Larabars

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups packed, pitted, soft whole dates

1/2 raw almonds

1/2 cup raw pecans

3/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and slick it with a touch of oil. (I actually just rolled mine out on some parchment paper)

2. Combine the cherries, dates, and warm water in a small bowl. (If the dried fruit you are using is already super soft and moist, you can skip the soaking step.) Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the fruit is soft. The exact timing will vary according to the dryness of the fruit. Drain the fruit and pat it dry with paper towels.

3. Meanwhile, place the almonds in a food processor and process until finely chopped but not pastelike. Add the drained fruit, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Pulse the ingredients until the fruit is finely chopped and blended and the Larabar mixture begins to stick together and clump against the sides of the bowl and your processor starts hopping on the counter just a little bit. This could take up to 2 minutes or so.

4. Transfer the Larabar mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray or slicked with a touch of oil atop the bar mixture and use it to spread and flatten the mixture evenly in the pan. Leave the paper or plastic wrap in place. (Alternatively, form the mixture into any size or shape you like, such as balls or mini bars.) Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Using the paper or plastic lining the pan, lift the bar mixture from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Uncover and cut into 6 bars. Tightly wrap each bar in plastic wrap. The bars will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months (let the frozen bars thaw for 1 hour before consuming).