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Hazelnut & date bars, with a touch of chocolate

I’m rather picky about what goes into snack bars: What kind of nuts? (No walnuts or pecans, if I can avoid them.) And I’d prefer the absence of dried coconut. Not too sweet, as I don’t want a sugar rush that results in a headachey crash — dried fruits are good, as long as they don’t have additional sugar or honey. I don’t want a bar so chunky the nuts become a struggle to chew, or too pasty like…well, a uniform, unremarkable paste.

I didn’t realize how easy snack bars are to make, until I saw a recipe for peanut butter and chocolate energy bars. Dates are the perfect “adhesive” agent, as well as pleasantly sweet (but not too sweet). Why not use my ever-favorite hazelnut?

hazelnut date bars

If you can, try to find blanched (already peeled/hulled) hazelnuts. If anyone knows a good, dependable domestic (North American) source, I’m all ears. Roasting them really makes a wonderful difference, too. Each bar is very filling! Great for pre- or post-exercise, or for traveling or a long commute; I wrap them in wax paper or parchment, then pop them in a zippy bag. I keep the bars refrigerated for longer term storage. They’re yummy either cool and firm, or room temperature and soft.

Ingredients

  • 10 to 8 ounces blanched hazelnuts
  • 6 to 7 ounces sticky dates, pits removed; Medjool are good
  • (optional) 1 1/2 ounces tart, unsweetened dried cherries; replace with dates, if you wish to omit cherries
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, either bittersweet or semisweet

Method

  1. Roast the hazelnuts in a 350ºF degree oven, stirring once or twice, until golden brown — about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Heat chocolate in the microwave until just melted. I usually heat in 30 second increments at 50% power,and stir; usually takes only 2 or three minutes. Set aside
  3. Line a square pan, either 7×7 or 8×8 inches, with parchment or wax paper.
  4. Roughly chop hazelnuts in a food processor. Add the dates and salt, and pulse in 10 to 30 second intervals until finely ground (see photo below), adding the chocolate midway. Inevitably, the mixture will become somewhat oily, but try to avoid making it a complete paste that’s very oily. Having the nuts at room temp or cooler somewhat reduces to oiliness.
  5. Place the mixture into the lined pan, and firmly press it in with a paper towel. I usually go through 2 to 4 sheets of paper towels to help remove excess oil.
  6. Chill in the fridge until firm, at least a couple hours or more.
  7. Remove the mega-bar from pan and onto a chopping board. If needed, pat away more oil with paper towels. Slice into 16 equal-sized bars (or 24 bars, if you prefer them on the smaller side). Store in the fridge until ready for consumption.

mixture in food processorThis is what the ground mixture of all ingredients should look like at the end of step 4.

mixture in pan before pressingStep 5, dump it into the pan!

mixture in pan after pressing and chillingAfter some amount of pressing with several paper towels, and firming up in the fridge, after step 6.

One comment

  1. Lizzy wrote:

    These were so good!

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 3:34 am | Permalink

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