30 November 2013



Before we left for the holiday, I decided to make some granola bars. I figured they'd be a good thing to bring in my overnight bag for a Thanksgiving mid-morning nosh, would keep well and be prime for sharing. I've made this recipe based on Deb's before and liked them lots, but realized I overlooked a key point  to use quick cooking oats! They are remarkably better as such--texturally more cohesive and bar-like, with a chewier chew, are easier to cut and more amalgamated once baked. Much more like those famous Whole Foods ones that they smartly sell in baskets on the way toward the check out line... from which these bars are inspired. But if you've got some oats, nuts and sweeteners on hand and heck, chocolate and coconut flakes, you can make your own and bypass that basket.

These granola bars are not only easy to make but pretty foolproof. There's no worry of over-mixing, no ingredient temperature issues, it's a one or two-bowl affair and you can wrap them and keep them a few days at room temp. For longer storage I hear you can freeze them, too, if needed. One thing's for sure, I do promise that these will be the best granola bar you've eaten. They just don't compare to what you get in a box. They are also one of those things you can tuck into your lunchbox and remember when that afternoon sustenance call sounds at work and the last thing  you want to do is stand on line at Whole Foods.

And: before I close, in the spirit of sharing, I must plug a muffin worth making: Sara from Sprouted Kitchen's Brown Butter Espresso Chip Muffins. Just say that a few times and you'll be craving one.

I love when I come across a recipe that sounds so coffee-shop-ish and slightly decadent but boasts whole, substantial ingredients, and this is one of them. I'd had it on my Pinterest board for awhile and finally got to it on this lazy Saturday afternoon, upon coming back from the holiday to a relatively "fruitless" kitchen primed for these pantry-based muffins. They are keepers. I haven't done much baking with coffee, (imbibing of it, yes) and upon a bite, I was crazy about the fact that the pinches of cinnamon, fine-ground coffee and vanilla sort of synergized into more of a perfume for the spelt-almond-oat flour batter. Studded with shards of dark chocolate and topped with a little buttery-oat streusal, just... yum. Even though they didn't need it, I slicked a small slather of Buckwheat honey (a dark honey) on a just cooled-down half, and Ed chomped on one without any spread, or halving, but lots of vertical nodding. Wheat-free, and just sweet-enough from coconut sugar (or brown), these definitely qualify as sustenance. If you haven't seen it already, head on over to Sprouted Kitchen for the recipe.  And see below for my adaption of the granola bars. Til soon, MN

Chewy Granola Bars Recipe

Adapted from Smitten and Orangette

1 cup quick cooking oats (I used Quaker)
1 cup add-ins (I used lightly toasted almonds, raisins, pepitas and coconut flakes)
1/4 c chopped dark chocolate 
1/4 tsp. fine salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp almond butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp honey   (or all honey or maple)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter a baking pan with butter, (I used a loaf pan 9 x 5 as this is a halved recipe) and line the bottom with parchment paper in a sling for easy pick-up Grind 2.5 Tbs of the oats into oat flour then stir together the remaining oats, oat flour, sugar, add-ins salt, and chocolate. Then whisk together the almond butter, vanilla extract, melted butter, honey, and water well. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir well, until the mixture is evenly moistened.

Transfer to the prepared pan, pressing the mixture firmly to ensure that it molds to the shape of the pan. 
Bake the bars for about 30-38 minutes and start checking at 25. It may seem almost underbaked if you press on it, but it’ll set as it cools. Cool several hours in pan if possible. You can also chill the pan for a bit. When cool, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan and cut the bars into squares.

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