Or “Laraballs” as the case may be. In case you’ve never seen them, Larabars are raw snack bars made with dried fruit and nuts. It’s a pretty simple formula that results in an amazingly tasty snack. And unlike many snack bars, they aren’t full of weird ingredients. In fact, most Larabar packages will list only two ingredients on the package: dates and nuts.
Last year I came into possession of a box of dates that I didn’t know what to do with. I’m not a huge fan of dates on their own – I find them too sweet – but since it was Christmas time, I thought I’d turn them into by making homemade Larabars (aka “Monibars” or “Moniballz” depending on the form facator). With a food processor, these things are a cinch – and they’re tasty!
If you Google ‘homemade Larabars’, you’ll find loads of recipes and limitless flavour combinations, but these are the ones that worked the best for me (my personal favourites are Banana Bread and Cocoa Mole):
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup dates
- pinch of sea salt (optional)
- 8 oz. dates, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp cloves
- 4 1/2 oz. almonds
- 3 1/4 oz. pecans
- 1/4 cup dates
- 1/4 cup dried banana (Trader Joe’s sells these as “Nothing But Banana, Flattened”, or you can follow Oh She Glows‘ method for drying your own)
- 1/3 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup dates
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup dates
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
The method for making any of these is the same:
- Pulse the nuts in a food processor until they’re crumbled into small bits, but not completely ground into a powder.
- Remove the nuts and put the dried fruit and any spices into the food processor. Pulse a few times so that the dried fruit forms a sticky goop.
- Put the nuts back into the food processor and pulse until everything comes together.
- Shape into balls or squares using your hands or a square container as a mold (see below).
- If your food processor isn’t doing a good job of goop-ifying the dates, try a blender on low speed.
- If in step 3 the mixture doesn’t seem to come together, turn off the food processor and use your hands. Squeeze the mixture and see if it comes together that way. If not, you might need to add another date or two to the mix.
- Try to get good, soft dates. The dates from Medjool.co.uk worked well, as did these Natural Delights Dates. Both were sticky and squishy to touch. I’ve used other dates that were almost smooth and hard on the outside – these didn’t work so well in the food processor and I had to use the Vitamix to goopify-them.
- It helps to wet your hands before shaping the bars / balls.
- All those people who take pictures of their Larabars (or other bars) artfully stacked and tied together with cute little ribbons must not live in the real world. Wrap them up individually in cling film or wax paper so that they’re practical and easy to transport.
- The bars are easiest to shape by using a container lined with cling flim. Push the fruit-nut mush into the container, then remove and slice into whatever size you like:
I prefer “bars” to “balls”, but my mom likes the balls because they’re bite-sized (I won’t read further into that).
The nice thing about these DIY Larabars is that they keep for ages so they’re handy to stash in the car or backpack as an “emergency snack”. They’d also make perfect high-energy portable treat to take on long hikes or bike rides: a good excuse to go trekking if you ask me.