Dairy Free Fruit & Nut Bars- Quick and Easy one bowl recipe that's Healthy and Yummy too!



We're nuts for these healthy and delicious Fruit and Nut bars. They contain only 1/4 cup of flour just enough to keep the dried fruits and nuts together and just 1/4 cup or less of sugar so they are tasty without being too sweet, and are like quite like granola bars. The nuts make them crunchy and the dried fruits are both sweet and tart. It would be interesting to make these with rum soaked fruits during Christmas time, instead of the fruit cake which I'm not such a fan of. These though, you must try, even if you are not a fruitcake lover, but love dried fruits and nuts as I do. They leave you feeling pretty full too. Perfect as an after-school snack or breakfast-on-the-go.It would be interesting to try a spicy and salty version of this too, which I might just do soon, but first a version with some chocolate chips!

Important Note: The taste of this really depends on the quality of the fruits and nuts you use. Nuts go rancid very easily and so don't use nuts that taste stale.For longer life, I store nuts in the freezer. If your dried fruits have become hard and dry, you can rejuvenate them, by soaking them in a little warm water- hey add some brandy or rum instead if you like! And they will become juicy and plump again. Drain and pat them dry with a towel and then proceed with the recipe.

Last week, I participated in a Bakesale for Japan and these Fruit and Nut cookies were one of  the goodies I had taken, along with World Peace chocolate chunk cookiesVegan Banana Bread made with coconut oil and these buttery Nutella stuffed cookies I was thrilled to see all my goodies disappear!



The wonderful coordinator of the event in our city, Paige mailed us the total of what we collectively had raised. The grand total for the bake sale was $8985.43 raised for relief organizations on the ground in Japan and I couldn't be happier to have been involved in this wonderful effort and my first bake sale. 
Here is a list of some of the bloggers who participated:
It was great to meet especially, Sneha of Art of Cooking a fellow member of The Kerala Kitchen and Vijitha of A Foodie n Her Cooking Hat. Such sweet and lovely girls! Plan to meet again and bake together hopefully soon. 
And here is a short video of the event
Now on to the recipe,for these incredible fruit and nut bars that I have been waiting to bake since I saw Alice Medrich herself bake these at a baking demo I am so grateful I could attend!. 

Fruit and Nut bars
Recipe source: Recipe is from Alice Medrich's book on cookies Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies  which was posted online here 
Time Taken: 15 mins to prepare ingredients and put in oven.
Baking time: An additional 35-40 mins
Yield: 16 bars


Ingredients
  • 1/4 c + 2 Tbsp AP flour ( I used unbleached Ap flour)
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt ( I didn't add this as the nuts I used were already salted)
  • 1/4 c + 2 T (packed) light or dark brown sugar, lump free ( I will use less next time) 
  • 2 c walnut pieces ( I used 2 cups of nuts from an assorted nut mix-including almonds, walnuts and pistachios. do not use nuts that are stale as this will affect the taste greatly) 
  • 1+1/2 c dates, pits removed and cut into quarters ( I used prunes instead)
  • 1 c (lightly packed) dried apricot halves, each cut in half ( I used assorted dried fruit like cranberries and raisins. If they are hard and dried up, soak them in warm water to plump them up again)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Equipment
8-inch square pan, lined across the bottom and up 2 opposite sides with parchment paper or cover the back of the pan with foil as if you were wrapping a gift. Then remove this now pan-shaped piece of foil  and put it inside the pan. Lining the pan makes it much easier to remove the bars, to cut up later.

Method:
  • Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. 
  • Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly with a spoon, or your fingers.
  • Add the brown sugar, walnuts, dates, and apricots.
  • Use your fingers to mix the ingredients until the nuts and fruits are coated with the flour mixture, separating any fruit pieces that are stuck together.
  • Beat the egg with the vanilla in a small bowl until light colored and thick. (I just used a whisk.)
  • Scrape the egg into the large bowl and mix with your hands until all of the fruit and nut pieces are thinly coated with this batter.
  • Spread the mixture into the lined pan, pressing to even it out especially towards the edges of the pan.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the thin batterthat surrounds the fruits and nuts is golden brown and has it pulled away a little from the sides of the pan.
  • Cool in the pan on a rack. Run a small knife around the unlined edges of the pan. Lift the ends of the paper or foil liner and transfer to a cutting board. Slide out the foil from under the bars. Use a sharp knife to cut 16 squares.
Storage
May be stored, airtight, for at least 2 weeks at room temperature, or for longer in the refrigerator.

Since they are a little sticky, for the bakesale I packed them individually by covering each piece in cling film and then putting them in a zip lock bag.

Joining me during my week long sweet celebration is Ambreen with some delicious Gateau Gingli Rier /Sesame Seeds Balls also called Laughing Cakes -A recipe from Mauritian cuisine. How interesting!

Since this simple recipe is great to bake with and for kids, I'm also sending this to the Cooking with my little sous-chef event 

11 comments:

  1. Wat a wonderful gesture& kudos to u gals..Bars looks simply inviting,feel like munching some..

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am going nuts over ur Dairy free nuts bar:-) Looks soo healthy n yumm..
    Glad to know that ur first bake sale event went off well :-) I wud have loved to join:-(

    ReplyDelete
  3. Those fruit and nut bars were so yum. My dad will like this for sure. Thanks for sharing the recipe !!! Here's my entry for your event.

    http://inspirationalartofcooking.blogspot.com/2011/04/buttermik-cornbread.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. A great thing that everyone has did by participating in the bakesale and hats off to all of u!!!
    Yummy and crunchy bars...

    ReplyDelete
  5. lovely bars Magpie... And nice pics of the bakesale...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am hungry now looking at your dish..looks yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good job girls! You rock!The fruit'N nut bars look so delicious and wonderful treat to have on the go.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Looks like you had fun baking and sharing these bars with friends. Healthy and nutty bars!

    ReplyDelete
  9. that is such a great achievement ...soo proud of u:)
    nut bars looks great and im sure they are guilt free :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Happy to know that u had gr8 time...love those healthy bars....

    ReplyDelete
  11. super duper. Lookslike the mixed fry fruits chikki I used to have as a kid. Fantastic of you to attend the bake sale and participate with such gusto.

    ReplyDelete

Your comments make me smile and encourage me to keep blogging! Thanks for visiting and taking time to leave me a message :)