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Chocolate Peanut Butter Date Bars

October 12, 2018

I made this one to bring to one of the cyclocross races for the season.  It was very well received!  Very moist and dense and I will definitely make it again.

I was afraid the base date layer was too loose and wouldn’t hold after I processed it so I added 4 figs (I was out of dates) to make it less crumbly.  It definitely held so maybe I would have been ok with the original recipe below.

I opted for peanut butter instead of almond butter mostly because there was already a lot of more expensive ingredients plus I wasn’t sure how my normal runny almond butter hold up in bar form so I opted for cheap Skippy peanut butter which surely held its shape.

You could play around and make a little thicker peanut butter layer and maybe a thinner ganache layer (Jim laughs and totally dismisses that second statement).

This is a gluten free and easily vegan if you use the appropriate chocolate.

Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 40 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 12
Taste: Great

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST
1 1/2 cups raw or roasted almonds or walnuts
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup packed dates (have 1/4 cup extra on hand in case base is too crumbly)

NUT LAYER
1 cup creamy or crunchy almond butter (or sub other nut or seed butter)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Pinch sea salt

GANACHE (vegan version)
1 1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate (very finely chopped // 9 ounces yields ~1 1/4 cup)
7 Tbsp light coconut milk
1 Tbsp coconut oil
OR-
(non-vegan version)
1 1/4 cup regular dark chocolate
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp butter

PROCEDURE:

  1. Prepare crust by adding nuts, cocoa powder, and sea salt to a food processor and blending into a meal. Remove from bowl and set aside
  2. Add dates to the food processor and mix/pulse until small bits remain or a ball forms. Break up the dates with a spoon so they’re not all in one clump. Then add the nut-cocoa mixture back in and blend to combine until a loose dough is formed.  If ball doesn’t hold when it is clumped together add a few more dates.
  3. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined 8×8-inch baking dish (adjust number/size of pan if altering batch size) and spread with fingers to evenly distribute. Then top with parchment paper or plastic wrap and use a flat-bottomed object – such as a drinking glass or measuring cup – to press and pack the crust into a solid, even layer. Remove parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Add nut butter to a small mixing bowl along with maple syrup and sea salt. Stir to combine. (Depending on the brand, if it is extremely runny you may need to add a little almond meal to thicken until spreadable)
  5. Add the nut butter mixture to the crust in spoonfuls. Then top with parchment paper again and use the same object from earlier to spread and pack the mixture down into a flat, uniform layer. Remove parchment paper and set in freezer to chill.
  6. Add finely chopped dark chocolate to a medium mixing bowl. Add coconut milk (or regular milk) and coconut oil (or butter) to a saucepan on the stovetop and heat until starts to boil  Pour the hot liquid directly over the chocolate, stir to combine, and cover with something (such as plastic wrap) to encourage it to melt.
  7. Let set for 5 minutes. Then whisk to combine. The mixture should be entirely melted and smooth. If not, heat in the microwave in 20-30 second increments until entirely smooth and no chunks remain.
  8. Remove 8×8-inch pan from the freezer and pour the ganache on top. Spread with a spoon until smooth. Then add back to the freezer to set for 5-10 minutes, or until semi-firm to the touch (enough to slice).
  9. Slice into desired number of bars: 9-12 (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) or even smaller so they’re “bites” rather than “bars.” Enjoy immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week or in the freezer up to 1 month.

Source: Minimalist Baker 

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