One young mom I know with three wiggly, energetic, and always-hungry kids aged six and under, never sets out in the family car without packing snacks. Sometimes a couple apples cored and cut up, some almonds, cheesy little crackers, plain popcorn—usually some sort of low-fat, low-salt, short on sugar and as relatively wholesome as she can manage without fomenting a “yuck, mom, that’s gross” sort of rebellion. Fortunately, the youngsters have not been indulged in candy-flavored breakfast cereal or the kind of granola bars that resemble cookies more than granola. I bet they’d like these wicked wholesome ground fruit and nut bars that my sister Sally out in Somerville has happened upon and makes for herself.
I whipped out a batch in jig time – it is all done in the food processor, just assembled, not cooked. You do need to have the kind of kitchen pantry supply that contains almonds, dates, dried cranberries or cherries, pecans, as well as chocolate chips.
When you chop the almonds, avoid ending up with almond meal by pulsing. I sifted out the last few larger chunks and finished by hand-chopping them.
There may be a certain level of tinker-ability with this recipe: more pecans than almonds, for instance. The dates have just the right amount of sweetness and their sticky texture is an asset. I used dried cranberries, but raisins or dried cherries would work. You could leave out the chocolate but I don’t know why you would.
You can form these into bars or balls. I patted out the dough about half an inch thick, squared up the corners, and sliced off bars which I wrapped in waxed paper and stashed in a cookie tin. They will probably find favor more with the grown-ups in my acquaintance than with the kiddies but I bet my friend the snack-packing mom will give them a try and her young ones will like them.
- 1 cup raw almonds
- ⅔ cup pitted dates
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup raw pecan pieces
- 3 tablespoons chocolate chips
- Using a food processor, finely chop the almonds.
- Add the dates and cranberries and process until the mixture begins to be sticky, and you can pinch some between your fingers and it forms a little ball.
- Add the pecans and chocolate chips and process until the mixture forms a ball of dough. If necessary, add a little water very gradually until the mixture comes together.
- Form into balls or pat out into a loaf shape about a half inch thick, and slice into bars.
- Makes 24 balls or 10-12 three-by-one-inch bars.