Snack bars, Larabars, Clif bars – they’re all the rage these days, thanks to the magical technology of: well, nuts and dried fruit. They’re nutrient dense, portable — and there’s something satisfying about taking a big, gooey bite.
I still remember the moment I made my first bar of sorts: the raw brownie. Walnuts, dates and cocoa powder come together in a food processor to something not unlike a dense, fudgy brownie. Alex had just run out on an errand and I remember texting him to hurry home because these were Goo-oo-od.
As part of some snacks we’ve been working to create with dried cherries lately (the first of which was this dark chocolate cherry bark), we’ve come up with a bar reminiscent of the raw brownie: dried Montmorency tart cherries mixed with almonds, a hint of cocoa powder, jumbo caramely Medjool dates, and cacao nibs. It’s a bit like a homemade Larabar, and the cherries + nuts combo offers both fiber and protein, which is quite the nutritional punch for a little snack bar.
So why go to the effort to make these instead of eating a handful of plain dried tart cherries and dates and almonds? Good question: without a doubt, eat handfuls of dried cherries and almonds! But if you’re like me, variety is key: if I get bored of my snacks, I tend to start to stray to my dark side (Star Wars reference for my man Alex) of compulsively popping sugary treats. These bars keep me intrigued, and they hit the spot with our taste testers. Also, they work for many special diets including gluten-free, paleo, and vegan.
One aside: the cacao nibs were a first for us; we’ve seen them on many websites and blogs, but had never stopped to give them a try (they even made a minimalist’s must have pantry item!). Cacao nibs are basically chocolate in its purest form, the bean of the cacao plant — sans sugar. That is to say, they are NOT sweet — so make sure to pair with sweet dried fruit to get the full effect. They’re also a bit pricey, but the recipe only uses a few tablespoons. Feel free to omit, and the bar will be just as delicious.
We’re working with the Cherry Marketing Institute to create a few recipes with tart cherries. A bit of info on them if you are interested: Montmorency tart cherries are mainly grown on small family orchards in the US and Canada (yeah!), and are available year round dried, frozen, and as juice in grocery stores and online. We love them for their taste, but they’re also rich in nutrients, with health benefits ranging from inflammation and exercise recovery to sleep. They’re a great snack since they can fulfill that sweet craving — you can eat them plain right out of the container (our favorite!) or pair with nuts or seeds, which makes for a fantastic combo of fiber and protein. Check out more details about Montmorency tart cherries and their nutritional benefits here.
- 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
- ¾ cup dried Montmorency tart cherries, divided
- 12 Medjool dates
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons cacao nibs
- Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and process until fully chopped.
- Add ½ cup dried cherries, 12 Medjool dates, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 pinch kosher salt. Process until smooth. Add the remaining ¼ cup cherries and cacao nibs and gently pulse a few times to incorporate
- Turn out the mixture onto a baking sheet and press it into a flat layer of the desired thickness. Roll a rolling pin over the top to smooth it to a uniform thickness. Place the baking sheet in the freezer or refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden, then slice into bars of the desired size. Store in a sealed container in the pantry or refrigerator.
This post is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. All opinions are our own; we love cherries and use them often. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who keep A Couple Cooks in action!