By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Snacking on dried fruit and nuts is all very well, but sometimes an ordinary snack can seem—well, ordinary. Try a little kitchen slight-of-hand to transform these few healthful ingredients into some extra appealing fruit and nut bars. All it takes is a quick whir in a food processor. You’ll turn the mix out into a bread pan, press-to-change and oh! what a difference! Once you paint on a chocolate cloak and a decorative drizzle, they’ll look as fancy as the store-bought temptations that seem to magically find their way into your cart. You’ll have no need of the expensive brand bars once the trick is revealed: you can customize these to your favorite flavors, like date and walnut, or pistachio-fig bars. Just make sure you use at least one cup of a fairly sticky fruit to hold them together. If you need to ensure your fingers will stay clean, you can always incorporate the chocolate by chopping it into the fruit, or omitting it all together. Once you’re practiced in these press-to arts, you’ll feel like a true prestidigitator. But any way you conjure them up, these bars will disappear like magic.
Chocolate-Apricot Nut Bars
1 ½ cups dried apricots
½ cup raw almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted
A pinch of salt
3 ounces dark chocolate, melted
Pulse the apricots, almonds, coconut and salt in a food processor until finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Line the bottom and two sides of an 8×5-inch loaf pan with a single strip of parchment. Turn out the apricot mixture into the pan and, using the back of a measuring cup, press the mixture firmly into the pan. Use the overhanging parchment to lift the bars out of the mold and onto a cutting board. Spread about 2 ounces of the chocolate in a thin layer, covering the top of the bars. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Gently flip the bars over so the solid chocolate will be on the bottom. Drizzle the remaining chocolate decoratively over the top (you may not need all of it). Slice into 6 bars and store in an air-tight container. If you wish, wrap individual bars in parchment paper.
Recipe adapted from Whole Living