Dates are a sneaky dried fruit. They frequently lurk in "healthy" snacks and desserts where their sweetness and dark color is supposed to trick you into thinking you are eating chocolate. I HAVE NEVER BEEN FOOLED. I still bear hard feelings against a Kashi "chocolate" coconut granola bar into which I eagerly bit only to find a mouthful of date and NOT chocolate. This was at least four years ago.
I don't hate dates. I just want them to be honest about their presence. Anyway, this weird start is all to say that when we made a recipe for chocolate energy chunk snacks from (never) homemaker I was not a huge fan because of the date-y taste.
But then Chris swapped the dates for apricots and it was a revelation! They are sweet without venturing into the overly sweet date territory. The apricots lets the chocolate flavor lead, which I appreciate. They taste a bit like you are eating a dessert but then they are also oat-y and filling.
We are in the habit of making a batch of these chunks (which sometimes we just call "balls"; I'd love to think of a different name, suggestions?) nearly every weekend. We use almond butter so they can be sent in Dashiell's lunch to his peanut-free school but any nut butter would be great. We've occasionally added coconut. They are sweet enough to pass as desert but with enough redeeming qualities (protein! whole grains! fiber!) that you can count them as a snack you can feel good about. I pack one nearly everyday in my work lunch.
Chocolate-apricot energy chunks
adapted slightly from (never) homemaker
12 dried apricots
4 teaspoons almond butter (or other nut butter)
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats
pinch of salt
In a food processor, pulse dried apricots until they are in small bits. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture is well combined and begins to hold together. If the mixture is not holding together and depending on the texture you prefer, add more maple syrup or a bit of water.
Scoop out one heaping tablespoon at a time and form into a ball. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These will keep for up to a week although they never last that long in our house.