happy new year! as a little gift to you, dear readers, i’ve created two original recipes similar to my beloved larabars. Here’s a quick tutorial for the “mango melba” flavor pictured above. The process is basically the same for both bars, so I’ll include two recipes at the end.
ingredients: whole raw almonds, dried mango, freeze-dried raspberries, medjool dates, vanilla (not pictured)
1. Chop the almonds in the food processor. You can make them a bit finer than what I’ve got pictured above, but don’t let them turn to almond butter. Remember–they’ll break down a bit more in the next steps.
2. add dried mango and raspberries and process until they’re fairly small pieces (shown above before processing!). if your dried mango is extra dessicated like mine, you might try soaking it in some hot water for about 5 minutes before adding it to the food processor.
3. remove seeds from the dates if necessary (they come out surprisingly easy for such a sticky fruit!) and add the dates and the vanilla to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is fairly fine.
this is the trickiest part of the process because you’ll need to find a good balance between the wet and dry ingredients. the dried mango you’re using might be drier or more moist that what i had, so you may need to adjust quantities. if it’s too dry (flies around the inside of the bowl, not really getting more chopped and definitely not sticking together), add a date or two (or even just a tiny bit of water). if it’s too wet (sticks to the top of the food processor and you keep having to scrape it back down the blades), add more almonds. what you’re looking for is a mixture that will easily hold together if you squish some between your fingers, but that isn’t so sticky that it makes your hands messy to touch it.
4. line a 9×9 baking pan with plastic wrap, leaving big “wings” hanging over the sides. dump your mixture into the pan and press it flat, using the “wings” to press it down. when it’s about 1/2″ thick (or when you’ve got it squished all the way to the edges), cover it with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours to firm up.
when i opened my first batch after refrigerating, i realized that it was waaaaay too crumbly (and chunky!). one of the great things about this recipe is that you can just dump it back into the food processor and try again! so i did. and i added more stuff and i tinkered and i didn’t take more pictures, but at one point, i opened the food processor after running it for a reaaaaaaaallllllly long time and discovered a smooth pink ball of food (likely a bit too overprocessed) but luckily, that was only about half of my batch and when i mixed the two together, i got this:
which looks uncannily like beef tartare.
anyway… once you’ve got the bars a consistency that you like and once they’re chilled….
5. cut them into bars (whatever size you find convenient). see that tiny strip at the top? we’ll do something special with that in a minute.
6. wrap your bars in waxed paper, seal with tape (use washi tape if you’re feeling fancy!) and if you’re giving them as a gift, add a wrapper (free downloads at the bottom of this post). they’ll keep in fridge or at room temperature for quite awhile, but mine usually get eaten pretty quickly. they’re great for lunchboxes, backpacks, diaper bags or to keep a few in your car (especially now when it’s cold. maybe not in the dead of summer.).
now, back to that tiny strip of leftovers. chop it into 1″ lengths and roll into balls.
these would make great party snacks! to make them a little extra festive (but still “clean”!) roll them in raw cacao powder (i mixed mine with a little bit of powdered vanilla bean too).
so yummy! ok, here are the recipes:
1 c. almonds (raw, unsalted)
4 oz. dried mango slices (no sugar or other additives, if possible)
3/4 c. freeze dried raspberries
6-7 oz. dates (about 12-15)
1/4 t. vanilla
Line a 9×9 pan with plastic wrap, with enough hanging over the sides that you’ll be able to fold the edges in and cover the whole pan. whir the almonds in a food processor until they are in small bits (not almond butter!). Add the mango, raspberries, dates and vanilla and whir until the bits are small enough that if you pinch them, they stick together. Dump the mixture into the 9×9 pan and (using those side flaps of plastic wrap) pack it firmly down. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, then cut into bars and wrap with waxed paper and washi tape.
1 c. almonds
zest of two clementines
juice of two clementines
1/8 t. ground cloves (or more, to taste)
1/8 t. cinnamon (or more, to taste)
4 t. hibiscus syrup (optional, see directions below)
1 c. water
1 c. Hibiscus flowers (also known as Jamaica, I found mine in the Mexican bulk foods section for cheap, might also be found near tea supplies?)
boil gently until it’s reduced by about 75%
the instructions to make the bars are pretty much the same as for the mango melba bars.
and here are the labels in case you’re feeling fancy: