Chocolate Brownie Fruit and Nut Bars are so quick and easy to make. Five simple ingredients turn into the most deliciously sweet (with no added sugar!), fudgy, good-for-you snack. Brownies beware!
Have you ever had a Larabar? If you haven’t, they are super-yummy fruit and nut bars made with a very short list of simple ingredients that you actually recognize. They’re a great on-the-go snack. As soon as I tried them, I knew I had to add them to my list of things to try to make at home!
After doing a little research, I found out that making your own fruit and nut bars at home is really quick and easy, and (bonus!) you can definitely save a few pennies by making them yourself – always a good thing, especially if you have a lot of snackers to feed!
One of the best things about these fruit and nut bars is that the dates make them naturally sweet. There is no added sugar in them! Even if you think you don’t like dates, please give them a try in this recipe. The combination of the dates with the other ingredients is so delicious!
I’ve tried a few versions, but this chocolate brownie version is my absolute favorite. It really does taste almost like a brownie – a really dense, super moist, fudgy brownie. Sometimes (gasp!), I would actually rather eat one of these than a brownie because it tastes so good and I don’t feel guilty eating it. I did say sometimes.
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO MAKE CHOCOLATE BROWNIE FRUIT AND NUT BARS:
- Pitted dates
- Cocoa powder
- Vanilla extract
- Salt (optional)
You can usually find the pitted dates near the raisins in the grocery store. Sometimes they are also in or near the bulk section where you find nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Just be sure to get the whole pitted dates with no added sugar (chopped dates sometimes have sugar added to them).
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED:
- Food processor
HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE BROWNIE FRUIT AND NUT BARS:
The most important part of this recipe is that the mixture needs to be very finely chopped and moist enough so that the bars will hold together. The amount of moisture will vary depending on the dates and nuts you use. Some dates are drier than others, and some nuts are oilier than others.
One thing to note is that the mixture does tend to get more moist the longer you process it. You may need to process it for 1 to 2 minutes to get it to the right consistency.
To test it, squeeze some in your hand and see if it holds together. If it does, you are ready to form the bars. If not, process it a little longer and test it again. If it’s still too dry and won’t hold together, add water, about ½ teaspoon at a time (a little goes a long way – you don’t want them too wet), and process until it will hold together.
I like to use a bread pan lined with wax paper or parchment paper to form the bars. It’s the perfect size to give you 8 nicely-shaped bars which are about the same size as a store-bought Larabar. You can either cut them into squares or longer bars.
Putting them in the fridge for at least an hour to let them firm up a bit makes cutting the bars so much easier. If you’re in a hurry, you could put them in the freezer instead for about a half an hour. You could also skip the refrigeration step altogether and cut the bars immediately, just know that they will be a bit softer and might be a little more difficult to work with.
To store them, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out. Although they don’t have to be refrigerated, I find that the bars stay firmer and keep their shape better in the refrigerator.
- Do I have to use a food processor to make these? Yes (and no?). Here’s the deal. Everything has to be chopped very finely and the mixture has to become moist enough to hold together to form bars. In my opinion, a food processor is the best way to get this done. I tried using a regular blender, and it did not work. However, if you have one of those super high-powered blenders (think Vitamix, Ninja, Magic Bullet, etc.) that may work. I don’t have one of those, so I can’t say for sure (if anyone does have one and tries it, please let us know in the comments how it works with this recipe – Thanks!).
- Can I use different nuts? Sure! You can swap out all or a portion of the walnuts with other nuts that you like (cashews, almonds, pecans, or peanuts would all be great!).
- Do I have to use a pan to form the bars? Nope. You can form the bars by hand if you’d like. You could even roll them into balls. Just remember that the mixture needs to be firmly compacted so that the bars (or balls) will hold their shape.
- Can I freeze them? Sure! Make sure that each bar is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then put them into a freezer bag. Allow them to thaw and soften before eating.
So…I don’t think I’ll ever give up brownies because, um, hello, they’re brownies — but I will definitely keep a stash of these bars on hand for a guilt-free brownie fix (and a healthy snack) whenever I want it!
I hope you try this recipe for Chocolate Brownie Fruit and Nut Bars and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!
Chocolate Brownie Fruit & Nut Bars (Homemade Larabars)
- 8 ounces pitted dates, about 1½ cups
- 5 ounces walnuts, about 1 cup
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture is very finely chopped and moist enough to hold together to form bars. TO TEST: Squeeze some of the mixture in your hand and see if it holds together. If it does, you are ready to form the bars. If it is too dry and crumbly, process a little longer and retest (note: the mixture tends to get more moist the longer you process it). If the mixture is still too dry, add water, ½ teaspoon at a time (you don't want them to get too wet), and process until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
- Line a bread pan with wax paper or parchment paper, leaving some extra come up the sides of the pan so you can easily lift the bars out of the pan. Pour the mixture into the pan and press it down firmly until it is very compact and holds together.
- Cover the pan and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour, then cut into 8 squares or long bars.
- To store: wrap each bar in plastic wrap. They don't have to be refrigerated, but keeping them in the refrigerator keeps them firmer and they hold their shape better.
- You could shape the bars by hand if you'd like rather than using a pan. You could even roll them into balls instead of making bars.
- If you're in a hurry, you could cut the bars immediately instead of refrigerating them first, although they might be just a little more difficult to work with because they will be softer. You could also place them in the freezer for about a half an hour to firm them up a little before cutting.
Recipe slightly adapted from The Live-In Kitchen.