Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:
How many of you have tried Larabars? Out of all the energy bar type items in the grocery store, Larabars tend to be the most unprocessed and natural option out of the myriad snacks that line the granola bar aisle. For those of you that haven’t had a Larabar, they’re essentially a bar made of dates and nuts, with the occasional dried fruit or chocolate variety. They’re a great snack but can often be on the pricier side and the fun varieties (read: chocolate flavors) are not widely available.
Now that I’ve figured out a recipe for homemade Larabars, I can make them in whichever flavor I choose for a fraction of the usual cost. These bars have a base of Medjool dates, raw walnuts, cocoa powder, and peppermint extract, which makes for satisfying yet healthful treat that tastes almost like a fudgy mint brownie. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like a butter and sugar filled brownie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a tasty afternoon snack.
I like to make these a little thicker than regular Larabars, so you can really sink your teeth into bite of chocolate-peppermint flavor. The walnut chunks add some textural contrast, while the rest of the walnuts are ground into a fine meal to add richness to the base of the brownie that balances the sweetness of the dates. They taste much fresher than any sort of Larabar or equivalent you’ll find in the store, and I love to keep them in the freezer for a cool snack when the temperatures start to rise. All you need is a loaf pan and a food processor, so when you need a great snack that doesn’t require turning on the oven and heating up the house, give these peppermint “brownies” a try.
No-Bake Peppermint Brownies
Adapted from The Minimalist Baker
2 ½ cups raw walnuts
2 ½ cups Medjool dates, pitted
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch sea salt
- Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse until coarsely chopped, about 5 1-second pulses. Remove ½ cup of the chopped walnuts and set aside. Process the remaining walnuts until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Do not allow the walnuts to begin to clump together and create walnut butter. Transfer the ground walnuts to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Place the Medjool dates in the now empty food processor and process until the dates are finely chopped and gather around the blade in a large clump. Add the ground walnuts, cocoa powder, peppermint extract, vanilla, and sea salt, then process until all the ingredients are well combined and the mixture is beginning to clump together, about 45-60 seconds. Transfer the mixture to the medium bowl that previously held the ground walnuts, then add the reserved chopped walnuts and stir to distribute them. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer. Fold the edges of the parchment paper over the brownies and secure with a clothespin or a small strip of tape. Freeze until firm, 20-30 minutes, then cut into a 6 x 3 grid to create 18 brownies. Store them in the fridge or freezer and enjoy for desserts or snacks.