Makes 8 bars
These chewy homemade energy bars are loaded with good-for-you ingredients like medjool dates, roasted almonds, shredded unsweetened coconut and whole grain oats. We like to pre-toast the oats to maximize the flavor, but you can easily skip that step and make this recipe entirely no-bake. Instant espresso is what gives these bars their caffeinated kick and smooth coffee flavor, which is complemented by dark chocolate chunks and a touch of vanilla. Make these bars for a filling on-the-go breakfast or a healthy after-school snack for kids. While they can be stored at room temperature, we like to keep them in the fridge or freezer for a firmer bite.
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 3 cups soft Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates (about 20 dates), pitted (see Note)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup dark chocolate chunks
- Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the oats in a single layer. Bake until toasty and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
In a small bowl, mix the instant espresso with 2 tablespoons of water until dissolved.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dates with espresso, vanilla, salt, half of the almonds, half of the coconut and half of the toasted oats until a thick, sticky paste forms. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add the chocolate chunks and the remaining almonds, coconut and oats. Pulse until the mixture is chunky, but holds together when pinched. If your mixture is too crumbly, gradually add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until you reach your desired consistency.
Grease an 8-inch metal baking pan line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and, using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup, press it into a compact even layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm.
Using the parchment paper overhang, lift the bars from the pan. Cut into 2-by-4-inch bars and serve.
NOTE If your dates have dried out, place in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain.
MAKE AHEAD The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or stored in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 1 month.
Recipe and photo by Julia Heffelfinger