Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars
I love hiking. I live in a very beautiful part of our country and I like to get outside to enjoy it as often as possible. Lucky for me the weather has been B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L lately.
Since my world revolves around food, I always bring snacks when we go hiking. Sometimes it’s whatever I can find in my pantry. Sometimes it’s cake. (True story.)
Sometimes it’s my favorite snack bars from KIND. This is not an advertisement or endorsement, I just like them. I like that they’re made out of real food and I like that they taste good. My favorite so far is the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew bar because, duh, chocolate.
I ate one recently and found myself marveling over the delicious simplicity of fruit and nuts in a perfectly transportable bar when it hit me – I could easily make these myself!
With a little help from Jen’s own energy bar recipe on her website Use Real Butter (which you should check out, by the way) and guidance from the KIND ingredients list, I did just that.
It was as simple as pulsing some dried fruit in the food processor until it formed this rather unappealing looking gummy mass…
… then mixing in some nuts…
… drizzling with metled chocolate and BAM. Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars. If you play your cards right, you won’t even have to turn on your oven.
One thing I noted about the KIND Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars is that they don’t taste specifically cherry-y or cashew-y, and I find my bars turned out the same way. They are flavorful and satisfying though.
The dried fruit makes the bars just sweet enough and a bit chewy while the nuts give them some good crunch. I was a little afraid the chocolate would melt, but during a test hike over the weekend the bars held up just fine in my bag while we hiked through sunshine and enjoyed the nearly 80 degree weather. (80 degrees! In March!) Don’t leave them out in direct sun unless you want a big melty mess on your hands though.
Oh, and I highly recommend eating them with a view.
Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars
The dried fruit in this recipe is super sticky, which is great for holding the bars together but can be difficult to work with. To make it easier, spray all utensils, bowls and pans liberally with oil.
vegetable or olive oil spray
1/2 cup lightly salted cashews
1 1/4 cups (10-12 whole) medjool dates, pitted
1 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup almonds, roasted *see note below
1/2 cup crisped rice
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
* You can purchase your almonds already roasted if you don’t want to turn your oven on. Or, buy raw almonds, spread out evenly on a sheet pan and bake at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes, stirring once. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!
Line an 8×8 baking pan with two layers of foil, leaving some overhang, and spray with oil. Coat the inside of a large mixing bowl with oil spray. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse cashews until roughly chopped (no smaller than pea-sized pieces). Add to prepared mixing bowl. Spray food processor blade generously with oil. Add all fruits to food processor (dates through cranberries) and pulse until a sticky paste forms, scraping down sides as needed.
Add fruit paste to cashew pieces in mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup almonds and crisp rice. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Press mixture firmly into prepared ban. Press remaining 1/2 cup almonds firmly into top. Chill in freezer for about 30 minutes.
Spray a sharp knife with oil. Remove bars by foil overhang, place on cutting board and cut into 14 bars.
Place chocolate chips in a small, microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until chips start to melt. Continue heating in 15 second intervals, stirring well between each, until melted and smooth. Drizzle over cut bars. Set at room temperature until chocolate is firm, 15-30 minutes.
Bars can be individually wrapped and stored at room temperature for a few weeks. If storing longer, place individually wrapped bars in a freezer bag and freeze. Remove from freezer 1 hour before eating.