The internet is an amazing thing isn’t it? What with its millions upon millions of recipes to tempt and entice. I have to fight the urge daily to not spend half my day cruising the web looking for new recipes to incorporate into our repertoire here in the Oui, Chef kitchen. I love seeing what others, both professional chefs and home cooks are cooking, but if I’m not careful, I can lose hours bouncing from one site to the next, exploring the work of those I’ve come to trust to do GREAT food. To be honest, even while exercising restraint, I can accumulate 20 recipes during one of these reconnaissance sessions. Some, I’ll cook with the kids eventually, many I’ll file away and likely never get to, but every now and again, I come across a recipe that looks so perfect, that I find myself reorganizing our cooking schedule to make room for my new discovery right away.
This is one of those recipes.
One of the best food bloggers out there is David Lebovitz, an ex-pastry chef at Chez Panisse, and now a resident of Paris, where he authors both his blog, and some incredible dessert cookbooks. This is my adaptation of David’s adaptation (he calls his Fruitcake Bars) of an Alice Medrich recipe that I found on his blog just a few days ago. I have long been looking for a fruit and nut bar to make and keep on hand for school lunch and afternoon snacks, and as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew my search was over.
These are a wonderful chewy-nutty alternative to store bought snack bars, and are so easy to make, that I bet they’ll quickly become a staple in your kid’s school lunch boxes. They contain a little flour to help hold them together, but no oats or other grains to speak of, in fact, they remind me of REALLY good Kind Fruit and Nut Bars.
As long as you maintain the ratio of fruit to nuts to eggs to flour, feel free to substitute any dried fruit and nuts into the mix to get the flavor profile you desire. The recipe below is for a “single” batch to be baked in an 8″X8″ pan, we actually made a double batch, baked them off in a 9″X13″X2″ pan and they turned out delicious. I wouldn’t mess with the volume of dates too much, as I think their chewiness is important for the texture and cohesion of the finished bars, but as for all the other fruits and nuts, get creative and have some fun.
- 6 tablespoons (50 g) flour
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (90 g) packed, light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (50 g) each of walnuts, almonds, pecans, and raw pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped (use whatever combo of nuts you want here)
- 1 1/2 cups (170 g) dates, pitted and quartered
- 1 cup (170 g) assorted dried fruits (we used 110g dried apricots cut in half, 40g candied ginger finely diced, and 20g flaked coconut)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1. Line an 8"X8" square pan across the bottom and up the sides with two sheets of aluminum foil, making a big criss-cross with the sides overhanging (or use a 9"X13" pan, similarly lined for a double batch of bars).
- 2. Preheat the oven to 325℉ (160C) and position the rack in the center of the oven.
- 3. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the brown sugar, nuts and fruits, using your fingers to separate any pieces sticking together.
- 4. Beat the egg and vanilla in a small bowl, then mix it with the fruit and nut mixture until everything is coated and shiny. Spread the mixture in the baking pan and press gently to push into the corners of the pan, and to even out the top.
- 5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top of the bars are golden brown and the mass has pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan. Cool the bars in the pan, then lift out using the foil as a carrier.
- 6. When completely cooled, cut using a sharp, heavy knife to ensure neat, clean slices.