Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brown Rice, Dried Fruit & Nut Bars

These pure ingredient, no-bake trail mix bars are inspired by the Lärabar which are simply fruit and nuts.   A combination of a few natural ingredients like dried cherries and almonds or dates and cashews create flavor combinations that seem more complex than the minimal  number of ingredients would imply.  I found a recipe for Cranberry Pistachio ones on the outdoorsy-food-adventure blog Use Real Butter and took the technique to create a version that is a little lighter. 

My secret ingredient is Rice Krispies made with brown rice.  These are a little less sweet the the original Rice Krispies and are made in a facility that is gluten free.  The cereal replaces half of the nuts while providing a satisfying crunch. I also squeeze some extra juice into these bars.  Perhaps my pantry is drier than most.  The dried fruit drinks it up to form the nice paste that holds the bars together. 

Brown Rice Dried Fruit & Nut Bars
Yield: about 20 3-inch bars

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups dates
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup Brown Rice Krispies
Zest of a 1 orange
Optional: juice of half an orange

Method
  1. Line a loaf pan with wax paper or tin foil, leaving overhang on the long ends of the vessel.  
  2. In a food processor, pulse the dates and cranberries until well ground.  If your fruit is very dry, add juice at this stage.  Continue to process until the fruit forms a sticky paste. Place ground fruit in a medium bowl.
  3. Next, process the nuts until they are ground to the size of a grain of rice or a bit larger.  Add to the fruit.  
  4. Add the rice krispies and orange zest to the fruit-nut mixture.
  5. Use your (clean) hands to combine all the ingredients.
  6. Once the ingredients are well combined, start to press the mixture together so that they hold together.  Add a bit more juice if needed.*
  7. Press fruit-nut mixture into prepared loaf pan.   
  8. Cover and freeze for one hour.  
  9. The mixture will be very cold but not frozen solid.  Remove block of fruit-nut loaf from pan and slice into 1-inch slabs.  Cut slabs in half to form 3" X 1" bars.  Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.  Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap for travel.
*Our house tolerates a bit of crumble.  If you like your bars very firm, add a little extra juice.