Thursday, December 01, 2011

Homemade Larabar Recipe. The "Laurabar" gluten-free treat equivalent.

Make your own Larabars

Larabar, meet the "Laurabar"

I enjoy quite a few of the the Larabar date-based snack bar varieties, but I honestly do not understand how something so simple to make from such affordable ingredients can cost so much.

Sure, they come conveniently wrapped and are of a size suitable for snacking on the go, but I just find the Larabar products to be prohibitively expensive.  Let me clarify what I call expensive: a 1.7-ounce bar that lists for $1.69 at most grocery stores around me (i.e., a whopping one dollar per ounce!) and is sometime on sale for 4 bars for $5 (i.e., $1.25 each) or once in a blue-moon I see them for "only" $1/bar.  Even at "only" a dollar per bar, wow that adds up in a hurry.

So, I made my own.  And, just to entertain my wife, I named them after her :)

My "Peanut Butter Cookie" Laura-bar Recipe:
Super-Simple 10-minute Investment, and Cheap!

One of my favorite Larabar varieties is their "Peanut Butter Cookie" version, which like all Larabars is simply a mixture of dates (the primary ingredient in their bars) and secondary and perhaps tertiary flavors.  I made two versions: one with chocolate chips and one without.

Money-Saving Ingredients...
I started with a nice big tub of pitted dates that I acquired from Costco — this tub is a whopping 3.5 pounds of dates for something like $7.00 (i.e., $2.00/pound).  Next, I picked up a 35-ounce container of Planters peanuts from the grocery store for $5.48 (i.e., $2.50/pound) — Planters is a Kraft company, and as such the peanuts should be GF since no gluten-issues were disclosed on package.  For the chocolate-chip variation, I grabbed a 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips for $2.00.

PB Laurabar Ingredients / Instructions

You will not find a much simpler recipe than this!  The 10-minute creation time includes measuring and cleanup (I think it took longer to wash my food processor out than it did to make the bars).

  • 1 (packed) Cup dates  — place in the food processor and run it until the chopped dates essentially turn into a sticky well-chopped soft ball of dates.  This only takes a minute or so.

  • 1 Cup peanuts  — add to the dates in the food processor.  Perhaps use a spatula to mash the date-ball down toward bottom of chopper first.  Run processor in bursts until you have peanuts chopped to desired consistency.  This also takes less than a minute.

  • (optional) ½ Cup Chocolate Chips  — if you are making the Peanut-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie version.  Add these to the food processor and run in bursts for a total of 15 seconds or so (I only wanted to lightly-chop my chocolate chips so I had some noticeable "chunks" yet; you may not want to chop them at all, but chopping helps mix them into dates/peanuts quickly).

  • Move the finished date and peanut (and perhaps chocolate chips) mixture out of food processor and into a small glass pan (or equivalent).  I used a 7"x5" glass pan.  Now, pack that mixture down flat in the pan until it is level.  I end up with about a 1/2"-5/8" thick bar using this size pan.

  • Chill the pan of date-mixture in the fridge for a while so they hold up to cutting into bars.  An hour or two should suffice.

  • Cut your desired-size bars... they should look something like this when done:

You can surely place them in sandwich bags or plastic wrap for taking with you like any other snack bar now. And, you have just saved a fortune compared to purchasing pre-made bars!

Laurabar vs. Larabar : HUGE $ SAVINGS!

With a single batch (per recipe above) you will have between 16 and 18 ounces of finished product.  In other words, you have just created the equivalent (by weight) of 10 Larabars that would have cost you between $10 (if on a super-sale) and $17 (if purchased at typical retail price).  But, you just created the equivalent of those 10 bars for less than $2.50!

If I can make my "Laura Bars" for a mere quarter (yes, 25-cents) apiece, what can possibly justify the $1.69 retail price of the Larabars?  Packaging, distribution, wholesale markup, retail markup, convenience?  A 400%++ markup sure sounds like a lot to me.  When I constantly hear news of the economy being less-than-robust and about people not having money, I can not help but wonder: are people willing to invest a few minutes of their own time in order to save 70-85% on the what is essentially the same thing?

These bars are great for snacks or dessert, and they are relatively nutrient-rich with a fair amount of fiber, protein, and potassium.  They sure beat snacking on a traditional candy bar when it comes to your gluten-free diet.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.


Cheerleader said...

FABULOUS!!!! We've been wanting to make our own bars, but haven't been able to dedicate the time to do so!

Anonymous said...

Awesome recipe! If one is lactose intolerant, you can use non-dairy chocolate chips (the "Enjoy Life" brand tastes like regular choc chips). Thanks for posting this!

Tami said...

These taste so good, they were half the price to make and tasted so much better to me than lara bars from the store. They came out harder than the store bought lara bars though. For the next batch I am going to aim to make them a bit softer using this recipe as the base. Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

That is awesome! I love Larabars, but not all of them are GF, which bums me out. I'm definitely going to have to try this recipe! Thanks so much!

Beth said...

Thanks so mich for the recipe! I too have been frustrated about the prices of these store bought bars since I learned I am GF. I tried the recipe with unsweeted coconut and coconut oil instead of chocolate. They are great!!!

Lynn said...

I received a box of Larabars for Christmas (my wish list was lots of gluten-free treats :) and figured I could easily make these myself. They are a great way to add a little sweetness to my workday without the sugar.

Courtny said...

Wow, these are so good! They taste just like Lara Bars. (actually a little better) Thanks for the recipe :)

Anonymous said...

I see that you used Cocktail Peanuts. Do you think dry roasted peanuts would work, or is the extra oil needed? Thanks for sharing your recipe, this is going to save us a ton of $$

Mike Eberhart said...

I actually considered dry-roasted peanuts at one point, but I had similar concerns that the results would be too "dry"; in addition, many of the dry-roasted ones I found had added salt at levels I did not desire.

Having not tried dry-roasted ones, I'm just guessing a bit here... but, I would be it could work if you had dates that were relatively moist. I noticed that some batches of dates I have had are much more "dry" than others, and I have even added a bit of water to get the right consistency. So, maybe that would be a solution too if you don't want to add oil to obtain the desired texture/binding. I have also *planned* to try adding a few macadamia nuts into a batch for this reason: macadamias are almost entirely oil, and I figure that'd make up for any "dryness".

Glad you are saving money with this homemade version! Feel free to share the results of your experimentation with dry-roasted nuts if you go that route. I'd bet you can find a way to make them work out nicely.

Lucero De La Tierra said...

Thanks so much for this recipe and brilliant breakdown of cost savings. We just recently discovered Larabars and had the same reaction about price but was immensely impressed with the taste and simplicity. Only days after trying them I started looking for recipes and came upon your blog. You've got a new fan! :)