Every year, we spend the week in Phuket for his birthday. We stay in a villa with a kitchen, but it doesn’t have an oven, so no baking a birthday cake there. The first two years, I bought him slices of cake from the cafe– but since I do all of our baking at home now, neither of us are really into anything store-bought anymore.
Now, I prepare something ahead of time to mark the occasion. I’ve brought date bars, carrot cake with pineapple cream cheese frosting, and this year, these Chocolate Almond Date Bars. All three were winners in his book, and all 3 froze and packed well for the trip (it’s only an hour flight, so NBD).
When we are up there for a week, we cook a lot of our own meals. Yes, we go out for Thai dinners, and enjoy meals out at the restaurants at the resort, but we cannot eat out 3 times a day and feel good!
Shopping for regular Western food in Thailand is even more challenging than finding things in Malaysia. To save on costs, and have ingredients we like to cook with, I take some staples with us.
I make sure I pack things like olive oil, spices, balsamic vinegar, mustard, quinoa, millet, and popcorn. I also take canned tuna and some beans for convenient protein sources. Buying fruits, veggies, meats and seafood isn’t a problem. Our meals are simple, but healthy, and help give us energy for all the runs (walks this year), swims, and playing on the beach that we do.
Have just those few ingredients inspired me to start making balsamic glazed chicken, a staple in our house now.
These are adapted from the first date bar recipe I ever made– OhSheGlow’s Date Bars — the recipe that officially got me hooked on dates. Alex asked for them so many times, I’ve had to create a few spin offs to keep myself from getting bored making the same thing over and over again!
No-Bake Chocolate Almond Date Bars
- 15 Medjool dates about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Toasted Almond Fudge
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate 70%-85%, chips or chunks of a bar
- 1/4 cup almond butter roasted
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1/3 cup almonds toasted and chopped
- **If you are not using Medjool dates, or your dates are hard (old), soak the dates in hot water for about 30 seconds prior to adding. Fresh Medjool dates do not need to be soaked. (this applies to both crust and date layer).
- In a food processor, add the almonds and oats for the crust. Process until a coarse flour forms.
- Add almond butter, coconut oil, dates, and sea salt. Process until a "dough" forms. If the crust doesn't hold together when you squeeze it, add 1 more tablespoon of coconut oil, or 1-2 tablespoons of almond milk.
- Press the crust layer into the bottom of a 8x8 pan. Put in the freezer to firm up while making the date layer. If it freezes for about 20 minutes, the date later will go on smoother.
- To make the date layer, add dates to a food process, and process 3-4 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. The dates should form a paste and lighten in color. Add the lemon juice and salt, and process until well mixed.
- Spread the dates over the crust in an even layer. Using wet hands helps to press the dates down smoothly.
- In a bowl, add chocolate chips and coconut oil. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, and stir. Heat up in 20 second intervals, checking and stirring between each, until chocolate is melted.
- Stir in almond butter.
- Spread the toasted almond fudge later over the date later, and sprinkle the top with toasted almonds.
- For the prettiest bars, free for 4 hours to overnight prior to slicing. Slice into 16-25 squares.
- The coconut oil does a lot to hold the crust layer together, so the crust will get crumbly when warmed up. It's best to keep these in the freezer or fridge, unless it's cold where you are. In the tropics, we always eat these from the freezer.