Valentine’s Day is coming up, and my favorite part of the holiday is having an excuse to make lots of sweets. Not that you need an excuse to make homemade Larabars, but this bite-sized combination of dark chocolate, dates, and almonds is sure to win your Valentine’s heart. If you like energy bars but dislike how much they cost, this recipe is an easy way to whip up a homemade version for a fraction of the cost. I adapted a recipe from Foodie With Family to make these cute little hearts and some regular bars too.
Homemade Larabar Bites – Makes four dozen bites or 20 bars
1.5 cups whole roasted almonds (unsalted)
3/4 cup chopped, high quality dark chocolate
3 cups whole, pitted Medjool dates, divided
2 tablespoons almond butter
Line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper, leaving generous edges hanging over the sides. A straight-edge pan will produce bars or hearts with a more uniform thickness, but a rounded-edge pan is fine too. Set pan aside while you prepare the bar mixture.
Process almonds in the food processor until they are very finely chopped. Add chocolate and process until evenly mixed, then put in a medium bowl and set aside.
Process 1.5 cups of dates until they turn into a paste. It may form a big clump (like when making pizza dough in the food processor). If the paste is too lumpy, separate it into smaller pieces and continue to process. When the paste is smooth, add one tablespoon of almond butter and half of the chocolate-almond meal, or about 1.5 cups.
Process these ingredients together until they form an evenly mixed paste. Remove from the food processor and spread in the lined baking pan so it forms a 1/2-inch thick bar over about half of the pan’s surface.
Repeat food processor steps with the remaining 1.5 cups of dates and the chocolate-almond mixture. Finish covering the 9×13″ pan with this mixture, and fold edges of parchment paper over the bar. Use a flat, heavy object to press down on the bars to smooth the mixture. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
When you are ready to cut bite-sized shapes, remove the mixture from the refrigerator. Use the parchment paper to pull the whole slab out of the baking pan and transfer to a cutting board. I used a miniature heart cookie cutter from Sur La Table to make about four dozen bites. The mixture may start to stick to the cookie cutter as you go, but you can always put the bar mixture back in the refrigerator to harden for 15 minutes, then continue cutting. Store bites in a sealed container, ideally in the refrigerator if you want to eat them over the course of a few days or a week.