In January, I looked at a 4-pound bag of Domino’s sugar and had a moment of terror. I bake a lot. This, you know. Recipes for baked treats usually have at least a cup of sugar in them, if not two or more. I go through that 4-pound bag in no time at all.
I was not at all ready for a January cleanse of any sort, but I decided that in February, I would go refined-sugar-free for the month.
And yes, selecting the shortest month was completely intentional.
I didn’t want to cut out natural sugars like fruit or skim milk – and I am not the type to turn down an occasional piece of birthday cake. I mean, I wasn’t going on a month-long jerk spree. I just wanted to be more intentional about my choices.
My friend AWP hosted Cooking Club in January, with a Whole30 theme (Hostess: AWP; Theme: What is your New Year’s Resolution?; Date: 01.28/18). And although the full-Whole30-shebang is too extreme for me, I don’t turn down wonderful recipes, which AWP always finds for her menus. Which is what this is.
Is combining and chopping up three things a “recipe”? Don’t know. But you should try it.
I have heard at various times about making date-bar snacks using a food processor. It just never struck my fancy enough to try out, and it sounded like a mess to clean up.
Well guess what. My fancy has been smacked over the head, and my food processor is just fine.
This recipe is a lot more forgiving than I would have guessed it could be. I have made this more than 5 times now, sometimes making half a batch, sometimes guessing on the dates, and it has turned out well every time (maybe a little different texture, but always great).
Here is what you may expect when you combine dates, cashews, and coconut in your food processor, and how to go from three distinct ingredients to one delicious snack:
1. This is just pretty.
2. After a few pulses, the dates and cashews start to break up.
3. After a minute or two, you will be getting somewhere.
4. When it starts to adhere into chunks or one large ball, you are basically there.
5. If you are not sure, pick up a bit and pinch it. If it sticks together, you are ready to make your bars.
6. Be warned: It literally might form into one giant ball. This happened (pictured below) when I used medjool dates – but not when I used noor dates. My guess is medjool dates are meatier and have a higher ratio of sticky, inside date, to outside, drier skin date. This is a super-technical description of my hypothesis.
7. Then, I like to lay out a large piece of parchment paper and pour the mixture on top. I tried this with wax paper, and it didn’t work out as well. The natural grease soaked right through it (I know – weird). But parchment works well.
8. I then fold the parchment paper over the pile, and press down with my hands. To get straight edges, make sure you are pressing into a fold of the parchment paper, like below.
9. **Then you want to refrigerate the enormous bar you have made, whole. This will make it easier to cut.** (not pictured) It only needs about 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator, but you can leave it in for as long as is convenient for you. When you are ready to cut, do so with a large chef’s knife (on a cutting board). You can leave the bars on the parchment paper for this. And you can also snack on the less-perfect edges.
10. The finished bars need to be stored in the refrigerator and will last a long while (if you don’t eat them super fast, which you might). They pack easily and are great for hikes, work snacks, or pre-dog-walk-shove-food-in-mouth-after-work-pre-dinner-snack. You know I’m always looking for those. They are very sweet, and a little heavy when you think about the ingredients. I like to cut them into smaller squares rather than powerbar-shaped rectangles, with the hopes that I will just have one for a quick snack (…but usually have two or three), but you can literally do whatever you want. Always. I will never stop you. Ready for the fridge:
These were a great staple for me to have in my fridge during my no-refined-sugar February, and have stood the test of time and stayed in my rotation. Don’t get me wrong – dates have a decent amount of natural sugar, and cashews and coconut are not low in fat at all – but it’s all natural, with no added anything, which felt good to me. You can keep these ingredients on-hand (my fave!) and always be ready to make this easy recipe.
- 1.5 - 2 cups pitted dates (i.e. pits removed)*
- .75 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ⅔ cup raw unsalted cashews
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor bowl**, distributing them evenly as possible to give it a good head-start.
- Pulse the food processor a few times, holding on to the base (the dates are hard for the processor to get started on, but they will break up soon).
- Continue to pulse, or process on low, for a minute or two. The motor will have to work pretty hard, so you may want to give it a break after 30-45 seconds.
- The ingredients will chop up finely and then start to blend together. When they start to adhere to each other, you are almost there.
- The mixture may form into one big ball. That's great! If it looks like that may not happen, try pinching some and see if it sticks together. If it does, you are good to go.
- Pour the mixture onto a large piece of parchment paper. pat it down firmly until it it about .25" thick, using part of the same parchment paper or a second piece.
- Refrigerate the pressed mixture for 15-20 minutes (or longer - no rush!).
- Place the slab on a cutting board, and cut as desired. I like squares, but you may prefer larger rectangles.
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You may wish to separate the finished pieces with parchment paper so they don't stick to each other.
- Enjoy for quick snacks or breakfast on the go!
For more info on pitting dates, check out this information (look just below the large photo of the date in my fingers).
** Although many recipes can be made in either a food processor or blender, I have not tried this one in a blender and think that the shape of the blender bowl and length of the blades probably won't work for this recipe the way that a food processor will.
Adapted from: https://www.thebewitchinkitchen.com/coconut-cashew-bars/