Apple Cinnamon and Date Caramel Bar

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As I mentioned in my previous post, vegan cereal bars are my obsession. Before going vegan I only cared for green apples. Now, when I go grocery shopping, I always get one of every single kind that I can find. Because I was planning on using my dehydrator for some ingredients of the Berry Special Cereal Bar, I thought that it would be cool to make a cereal bar with a nice layer of apple slices. During the same time, a friend from Saudi Arabia had me try one of her country’s dates: Sukkari Dates. I’m sure you can guess that the name comes from “sugar”. These dates have such a distinct sweet flavor of caramel that I also decided to use them. I mean, who doesn’t like apples and caramel?

Ingredients (for 16 bars depending on size)

  • 4 apples of different types, flavors and colors, sliced and dehydrated.
  • 1 ½ cup rolled oats (I use gluten free).
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (I make my own, and for this recipe I prefer to use roasted peanuts).
  • 2/3 cup Sukkari dates, soften and pitted.
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped.
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped.
  • ½ cup cashews, chopped.
  • ½ cup pistachios, chopped. (I used Irani sliced pistachios… so good!!!)
  • ½ cup maple syrup.
  • ¼ cup flax seed, milled.
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds.
  • ¼ cup black sesame seeds.
  • 1/8 cup black chia seeds.
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger, ground.
  • 1 lemon, just the juice for brushing.
  • Salt
  • Materials: 20x30cm (8×12 inch) pan or baking dish, aluminum foil and/or parchment paper, a high speed blender or food processor, and a food dehydrator (optional).

Procedure

  1. Peanut Butter: In a food processor, process your roasted peanuts to make some butter. You can add some salt to taste.
  2. Apples (follow these steps only if you are making it from scratch): Slice your apples to the desired thickness. Brush them with some lemon juice on both sides to avoid them from turning brown. Let dehydrate at 65-70 degrees Celsius for 6-8 hours (duration might vary depending on your dehydrator). Once ready, set aside.
  3. Agave: in a blender cup, blend the ½ cup of maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger.
  4. Dates caramel (honestly, it’s just dates!): process the dates until making a soft paste. I usually don’t need to add anything else, but you can add some water or nut milk of your preference if you need to make it less dense. (Note: I usually soften my dates by taking the pit out and letting them soak in warm water for about 10 minutes. The liquid in them is more than enough to get a nice dates paste with appropriate texture).
  5. Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together (except the apples).
  6. Wet ingredients: Add the cinnamon ginger maple syrup to the dry ingredients. Mix everything well, making sure that the syrup has spread everywhere. Then, add the peanut butter. Once again, make sure that the butter has mixed well with all the ingredients (beware of butter lumps… these will make your bars fall apart once you cut them).
  7. Line a pan or baking dish. I like using foil to wrap around the edges and then use as handles when removing it from the pan for cutting. Put the mix on the pan, evenly distributing it (press it down with your wet hands). Then, cover with some parchment paper. (Tip: I like to use a small cutting board – smaller than the pan – to press down the mix even more, and make it a very tight and even cereal brick). Remove the parchment paper and now lay the dates paste evenly with a spatula. Finally, make an apple layer by alternating the different types of apple slices throughout the entire cereal block. Cover again with the parchment paper and press down.
  8. Put it in the freezer for about an hour. Then, remove the cereal brick from the pan, cut into bar-shaped pieces (I usually get 16 bars from my 20x30cm pan), and wrap in foil for individual bars (plastic film might be better given that the apples had lemon juice on them, and in contact with aluminum foil the flavor might change).
  9. Store them in the fridge or freezer for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

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