The “Local” Latte Snack bar
I love all these over priced chewy, nutty, fruit-filled snack bars, who doesn’t? Especially when anything like this is not available, but should/could be. This is where our adventure began to seek out the SOLO “nuts and dried fruit lady” in the Dezerter Bazaar (aka: fruit and veg market) in Tbilisi, Georgia.
After two metro trains and over 300 kiosk-like stalls selling everything from the moon and back… there she was, the one-stop-shop raw nut and dried fruit lady selling all the basic natural ingredients I would need to make these sweet snack bars from heaven. I have to admit; I was surprised by the variety she offered. I even had the opportunity to try dried fruits that I had never tried before. Like, raspberries or 4 different varieties of plums for example. Most of the ingredients where locally grown and dried locally, however some were imported from Iran (dates), Kazakhstan (peanuts), and neighboring Turkey (apricots). Twenty minutes later, I was all stocked up with several half kilos of different nuts and fruits. Prices ranged from 4 GEL (peanuts, plums, sunflower seeds) to 35 GEL (cashews, almonds, raspberries).
When I got home, I did a quick search to find a basic snack bar recipe. Being the creative cook that I am, naturally I tinkered with the different recipes and ratios until I felt satisfied with my own creation. Here is what I came up with.
Local Latte Snack Bar
150g dried cherries
150g dried plums
300g raw cashews
150g raw hazelnuts
100g dried raspberries (replace with cranberries in unavailable)
7 seedless/pitted whole dates
4 tsp expresso ground vanilla coffee
Place the cherries and plums into a bowl with cold water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the cashews and hazelnuts into your handy food processor. Pulse until chopped fairly small, but not a powder. Add the raspberries and give it a quick pulse. Dump mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl.
Drain the water from the dried fruits and add them to the food processor. Add the dates and chop together until you have a sticky paste. Be careful not to burn out the motor on your processor, I almost did this. Yikes. Once you have the correct texture, add the mixture to the mixing bowl with the nuts. Lastly, sprinkle the coffee over the nuts and fruit paste.
Using the back of a fork, hand-mix the ingredients together until well combined. This could take a few minutes. Line a small square cake pan with plastic wrap. Pour mixture into the pan. Using a piece of wax paper, press the mixture evenly around the pan until you have an even layer of sweet goodness. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Carefully pull the bottom layer of plastic wrap up, setting the giant fruit bar free from the pan. Remove both layers of wrap and cut into bars, squares, or any shape you like. Store in a tupper for up to 3 months in the fridge, if they last that long. Enjoy.
Kid tip: Split the batch before you add the coffee and only add 2 tsps of coffee to half the batch. The other half is now “kid-friendly” to eat.
Inner Chef tip: Be creative. You can use as little or as many ingredients together as you like. Just remember it helps if you have equal parts fruits, nuts, dates or prunes to maintain a nice sticky texture. You can also play around with adding other ingredients into the mix: a few tablespoons of chia seeds, a handful of coconut, even some chocolate chips.