CLIF Bar | Gary's Panforte Limited Edition

CLIF Bar: Gary's Panforte

CLIF Bars are ubiquitous with backpacking, camping, and just about any form of outdoor activity that requires refueling. The CLIF Bar line up offers some of the most flavorful and nutritious snack bars on the market, in my opinion, and I've been a fan for a very long time now. In fact, to my total surprise, the CLIF Bar company has been cranking out their snack bars for 20 years.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary CLIF Bar is releasing a special limited edition flavor called Gary's Panforte. My good friends at CLIF Bar were kind enough to send me some samples ahead of the official release to try for myself.

CLIF Bar: Gary's Panforte

You probably already know the history behind the CLIF Bar (it's written on the back of every wrapper), but for those of you that don't - it started when Gary Erickson (now CEO of CLIF) couldn’t stand the taste of any of the other energy/snack bars that were on the market and during a long bike ride he decided that he would create his own bars and CLIF Bars were born. I know the wrapper shows an image of a rock climber and they're called CLIF Bars, but trust me a bike ride was the inspiration.

So it should come as no surprise then that to mark the 20th anniversary of the company, Gary has taken his inspiration from his rides over the Passo di Gavia in Italy for this new special limited edition flavor based on the famous Italian Panforte confection.

CLIF Bar: Gary's Panforte

I'll admit that I had to do a little research for this one: Panforte (pronounced pahn-FOR-teh) is an Italian dessert or flat cake that is a cross between a fruitcake and a candy. It is a specialty of Siena, Italy that dates back to the 13th century. It contains just enough flour to hold all of the fruits, nuts and spices together. Cake! Old cake, but cake just the same :)

Wikipedia has this to say:

"Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembling fruitcake. It may date back to 13th century Siena, in Italy's Tuscany region."

There are even a bunch of online recipes for making your own Panforte, like this one at the Joy of Baking: Panforte Recipe.

CLIF Bar: Gary's Panforte

Taste Test - The Fun Part!
As soon as I ripped open the wrapper of the Panforte bar I could tel that this was very different. It is not at all similar to the usual, dense brick of hearty goodness that I'm used to, Gary's Panforte looks exactly like a slice of fruit cake! In fact it reminds me of the fruit cake my mother used to make every Christmas and which took weeks to 'mature' after being baked because it was so rich and dense. I loved that damn cake.

After taking my first bite I was instantly transported back to my youth and the memory of savoring my mum's Christmas fruit cake. The taste and texture of Gary's Panforte is unlike any of the original CLIF Bars that I have had. It's moist, spicy, and much softer than the typical 'slab' of goodness. An organic snack bar has never tasted this good!

I've never had traditional Panforte to be able to compare this to, but based on the descriptions and images that I had found online, and knowing how seriously CLIF Bar takes their recipes, my guess is that it's pretty close to what Gary was aiming for.

The lighter texture and moisture of the bar can most likely be attributed to the masses of fruit in the recipe such as dates, figs, pears, raisins. The crunch is provided by a huge helping of mixed nuts like pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. There are also traces of peanuts in this bar for those of you with a peanut allergy.

CLIF Bar: Gary's Panforte

Despite the cake-like texture of Gary's Panforte, the bar weighs the same as the original CLIF Bar - 68g. It has slightly more calories (260 cals) than the typical original bar (240 cals) which will help with strenuous activities.

Overall I really liked the new Gary's Panforte limited edition bars and hope that CLIF keep them on thier product line long enough for their fans to taste them. The only problem I have with the Panforte bar is it feels like I'm cheating by eating cake for a snack - but trust me when I say that I can get over that feeling pretty quickly.

CLIF Bar: Gary's Panforte

Gary’s Panforte will be available starting in May, 2012 and will only be around while supplies last. If you seem them in stores I'd highly recommend snagging one or two just to try them. Remember that these are a limited edition and may sell out very quickly!

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Disclosure: CLIF Bar provided Brian's Backpacking Blog with complementary samples of Gary's Panforte for the purpose of this review. They will not be getting them back :)

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