Well, it’s 2018 and it’s time to start back on this bandwagon – the food wagon, that is! Yes, I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe, but we’ve been so darned busy with Moby (the van conversion), and winter in Vancouver doesn’t exactly scream “easy, breezy daylight photos”. So let’s kick off the new year with a new food post, shall we? I started making these Cashew Caramel Go–To Bars last fall, and they’re still a hit on the snack front.
If you have a food processor, these bars are really easy to make. They also don’t require the oven – just a bit of fridge time – which can sometimes be a bonus. Actually, the bigger bonus of these guys is that they freeze really well, and they can even be eaten straight from the freezer (sometimes a girl gets hungry, and needs food pronto!).
I’ve made a few snack bars over the years (here and here and here) and, regardless of what kind of nut / seed / fruit combo I use, the biggest key to the success of these bars (i.e. not having them fall apart) is to make sure the ingredients are finely chopped. This is especially key for any nuts that you use. Give them a good run-through with your knife (or use the food processor again) to make sure that the pieces are about the size of a kernel of popcorn.
Other than that, anything goes, really! The Medjool dates in these bars give a hint of a caramel taste and provide your body with so many good things (vitamins, minerals, fibre). We love peanut butter in our household, but feel free to change to a different nut or seed butter, if you need to.
Keys to making these Cashew Caramel bars easy:
- Line your tray with a piece of parchment paper. It makes removing the bars much easier, and it keeps your pan clean! You can also use the same piece of parchment to wrap the bars in for storing.
- Use very wet hands to mix the ingredients together. I started with a spatula, and eventually gave up and went with wet hands. Much easier.
- Try using the flat bottom of a measuring cup to firmly press the mixture into the pan.
- Remember to chop up your nuts and dried fruit. The smaller the pieces, the more you will guarantee to have a bar that won’t crumble on you after it’s set.
We love having bars like this handy during our climbing days and training days. They make the perfect snack to nibble on, and Jonty thinks the flavour combination is probably one of his favourites.
- 200 g (~12 large, 1 cup packed) pitted large Medjool dates
- 1 cup hot water
- 80 g (1/3 cup) natural peanut butter
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 200 g (1⅔ cup) large-flake oats
- 80 g (2/3 cup) dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 60 g (1/2 cup) raw cashews, finely chopped
- 25 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened coconut flakes
- 55 g (1/3 cup) chia seeds
- Soak the pitted dates in 1 cup of hot water, for 10 to 15 minutes, to soften. Drain the water from the dates.
- In a food processor, pulse together the dates, peanut butter, cinnamon and salt until the mixture forms a thick ball.
- In a large bowl, add the oats, coconut flakes, cranberries and finely chopped cashews, and date mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined. TIP: use very wet hands to mix.,
- Firmly press the mixture into an 8x8-inch tray lined with parchment paper. TIP: use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the mixture into the pan, in order to get it very flat.
- Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Remove from the tray and cut into squares.
Enjoy these Cashew Caramel Go–To Bars!