Friday, January 3, 2014

These Broken Ration Bars (aka Date Bars with Almond and Coconut) - Book Club Recipes

These Broken Ration Bars
(AKA Date Bars with Almond and Coconut)
While reading These Broken Stars, I came to realize something fairly obvious (self low five): food in survival kits is ubiquitously described as nasty.  This should not come as a shock - it’s not designed to titilate the senses and your palate; it’s there so you don’t start eating poison berries (but you may need to, these ration bars don’t just grow on trees...actually almost all ingredients in mine do, come to think).  I've had an MRE, and I'm still unsure how I feel about self heating bags and faux strawberry milkshakes in bags, and basically anything bagged and tagged to last forever. ANYWAYS.  I started thinking about this one in August, and had in mind some hazy plan to make granola bars.  But guys, granola bars are so boring.  And who wants to be bored when surviving in a ballroom gown and scopin’ out the only other human who conveniently happens to be a hottie who also happens wear a uniform seemingly made only of Under Armour, amirite, Lilac LaRoux?  

I set a super un-hyperspeed course (hello, it is now January) to make a ration bar as ungross, as palatable, and as low maintenance as possible.  I tried to use things I had on hand that you might too.  This includes almond butter, which I tried, but wanted to use up after realizing that I remain unconvinced that it actually tastes better than peanut butter.  They’re ultimately pretty simple and have about 9 ingredients (dates, almonds, almond butter, coconut, coconut oil, pepitas, oats, maple syrup, and a dash of salt - no dehydration for my troops allowed!).  The real beauty?  You can kind of throw in whatever you want, or roll them into balls and into the granola if you prefer to bite balls as opposed to squares while rationing your food to survive. I may have created the least practical survival bars ever - pretty sure they will get a little messy/squishy if not refrigerated.  Hence, you should only take them if you plan to get stranded in Antarctica, Siberia, the Yukon, or a planet resembling some foul those three.  That said, they do taste pretty delicious, have a lot of natural proteins and good sugars in them, and are incredibly easy and quick to make.  As usual, I looked at a few other recipes to reference the ratios, but then did my own thing (The Kitchn, OhSheGlows).

The moral?  Next time you plan to get stuck in a survival situation, pause before you crash to make These Broken Ration Bars (pro tip, they may be good for future holiday treat use!).  Enjoy them with your ladyfriends while you book club and discuss who you’d like to get stranded on an unknown planet with: Tim Riggins, Indiana Jones, Tarver Merendsen, or Neville Longbottom.  Note: don’t feed them to people with nut allergies unless you hate them and have a burning desire to try out prison for a spell.  

These Broken Ration Bars
(AKA Date Bars with Almond and Coconut)

These Broken Ration Bars
(aka Date Bars with Coconut and Almond)

These Broken Ration Bars
(AKA Date Bars with Almond and Coconut)

(see notes)
1 c pitted, quartered dates (roughly 10-12)
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp raw almonds
¼ c dried coconut
¼ c raw pepitas
¼ c oats (not steel cut)
¼ c almond butter
¼ c coconut oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
⅛ Tbsp salt


1) Preheat oven to 375.  
2) Mix ¼ cup oats, 2 Tbsp dried coconut, 2 Tbsp raw pepitas, 2 Tbsp chopped raw almonds and 1 Tbsp maple syrup in a bowl.  
3) Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake 15 minutes or until coconut is a golden brown.  Let cool entirely, at least 30 minutes.
4) In a food processor, pulse and combine dates with ¼ c almonds, ¼ c almond butter, ¼ c coconut oil, 2 Tbsp coconut, and 2 Tbsp pepitas.  Mix until well blended.  An almost mealy, rough dough should form.  
5) Line a 8x8 or smaller pan with plastic wrap and cover the bottom with the well cooled granola mixture.  Firmly press the date mixture across the top.  The granola may wind up in some places more than others; there a reason why I’m calling this recipe slightly broken. There is nothing tidy about survival, and you will survive this.   
6) Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm up but not freeze, or for a longer time in the fridge if you’ve got time.  Either pre-slice in the pan, or turn the plastic wrap over onto a cutting board and slice your squares into 16 or 25 squares.  Store in a sealed container in the fridge indefinitely - though I suspect you won’t be able to ration them.  

Date bar mixture, fully combined.

Roasty toasty granola.

These Broken Ration Bars
(AKA Date Bars with Almond and Coconut)

These Broken Ration Bars
(AKA Date Bars with Almond and Coconut)

I don't know about you, but methinks
my rations aren't going to last me until I get rescued..

- You don’t need to use plastic wrap in your pan; it just makes getting it out more tidy.  Likewise, you don’t have to make them in squares.  Roll teaspoons into balls and then roll them into the granola mix if you prefer!
- Use soft dates like Medjool; they’ll stick together the best.  They will also look a whole lot more like a cup and a half to two cups unless you press them down together.  Just trust the 10-12 decent sized dates recommendation and let the Cuisinart smoosh them together for you.
- You Brits and co call dried coconut dessicated...which I find both gross and charming.
- Check to see if your almond butter is salted; if not, add salt.  If so, taste and add salt accordingly.  The amount is a suggestion, you can omit it or add more if you like salty sweet stuff like I do.  
- Don’t be a dummy.  I may be a Masshole, but I’m talking about real maple syrup here, from trees.  Not stuff from cornfields.
- Pepitas, in case you don’t know, are pumpkin seeds.  
- I did math and totaled the ingredients for ease, but it may also be helpful to know how much goes into the granola vs. bar portions.  Here is that information:

¼ c oats
2 Tbsp coconut
2 Tbsp pepitas
2 Tbsp almonds, chopped
1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 cup pitted, chopped dates (roughly 10-12 whole dates)
¼ c almond butter
¼ c coconut butter
¼ c almonds
2 Tbsp coconut
2 Tbsp pepitas
⅛ tsp salt

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