This recipe is dedicated to Miles, who strung together his first two words when asking for the end result. It’s my attempt to recreate Lara Bars, a delicious and healthy, but ridiculously expensive, treat. Miles seems to think that my efforts are acceptable, as a couple of weeks ago at the farmers’ market he demanded “more bar!”
The quantities below are not hard and fast; I’ve made apple bars twice so far and both times they have been delicious. There are lots of possible flavour combinations using different kinds of dried fruit (see the list of “official” flavours for ideas). I’d suggest that the quantity of soft dried fruit (dates and raisins) and total amount of nuts should be held fairly constant to get the right consistency, but feel free to play around with dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, coconut, other nuts etc.
- ~300 g (11 oz) pitted dates
- ~75g (2.5 oz) dried apple
- ~100g (3.5 oz) each almonds, walnuts and raisins (I like to use toasted almonds for more flavour)
- 1 tsp (or more) cinnamon
Grind each kind of nut separately in a food processor. Different kinds of nuts grind up at different speeds, so it really does help to do them separately. Take out any really big pieces and grind them again (or just eat as a cook’s bonus). You want the majority of the pieces to be about the size of a grain of rice. Places ground nuts in a bowl. Grind up the dates until they stick together and start moving around the bowl of the food processor as a single ball; put dates in bowl with ground nuts. Do the same for the raisins and any other soft dried fruit you choose to use. Chop up dried apples with a knife (I found they were too crispy to work well in the food processor) and add to bowl. Sprinkle everything with cinnamon and then get to work kneading it all together. Just keep folding and mushing and it will all come together. If absolutely necessary, add a tiny bit of lemon juice for extra moisture.
Line an 8×8 pan with a piece of plastic wrap that is big enough to fold over and cover the top of the plan. Place the mixture in the plan and roughly squish it to fill the pan. Flip the extra plastic wrap over top and poke and prod the mixture to evenly fill the pan. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours and then cut into bars. I find cutting one side into 6 and the other side into 3 (yielding 18 bars) makes a good size.