I'm here, as promised, to update you on the myriad things I've baked and cooked recently. This morning I pushed my camera's memory card into the slot on my computer and thought "oh crap, what was I thinking not posting these things as I did them. Work be damned, I shouldhave just updated the blog instead!!" Now, I have four recipes to post. Maybe that doesn't sound like that much but look at my previous posts! They're long and detailed. And even as I type this I'm trying to figure out how to do it... all in one post or a post for each one. I think the latter is probably a better idea. So here we go...
I'm going to start with granola bars. Oh. My. These bars make me wonder why mass-produced granola bars even exist, or why anyone has ever bought them, or thought they were healthy. These are so simple and customisable, I really have no reason to ever buy granola bars again.
This places rocks (my gypsy soul?). It's easy to spend a lot of money though. Especially when you're like me and you buy things like dried pears, instead of the normal dried fruit... whatever.
I got this recipe from Kitchen Wench, and shock and awe, I basically followed it. Because the recipe is in weights (which I'm very much not used to, being a silly North American and all), I had to pull out my mum's trusty kitchen scale.
I actually shouldn't comment on its trustworthiness... I think I've used it about three times. It's because I'm a silly North American and hardly any recipes even mention the weights of ingredients.
For these bars, I decied to use dried cranberries, golden raisins (much better than red), and dried pears.
I took a knife to them and chopped them up to about the size of sunflower seeds.
I kind of splurged and used hazelnuts for these bars... I also used roasted (unsalted) peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
I had to chop up the peanuts and hazelnuts, as well.
Then, I threw the fruits and nuts into a big bowl with some organic muesli. It was supposed to be rolled oats, but I saw the muesli at Bulk Barn and just bought it... I'm impulsive like that. I also threw in some coconut.
This on its own would be delicious for breakfast.
To hold all this together, I had to used a few sticky ingredients, including honey (and some Nutella, because I didn't have enough honey), peanut butter, oil and brown sugar.
I let that all melt and get gooey in a pot.
While it cooled a little bit, I threw some flour into the dry ingredients and mixed it all up so everything was coated.
And then I dug a little hole into it and poured in the wet ingredients.
Mixing it all together was fun... sticky and gooey.
To bake the bars, I lined a pan with parchment paper, and then pressed the granola mixture into the pan.
It was amazing how much these would compact.
The pan went into the oven for about 35 minutes, and then came out and cooled for about 20 minutes before I cut them up. I couldn't let them cool completely, or they would have just shattered when I put the knife anywhere near them. It was easy to remove from the pan, too, with the parchment paper. I cut the mass that would soon be bars in half, lengthwise, first, and then cut each half into 10 3/4" width bars. That's right... 20 bars from one recipe... that's right, enough for two people for two work/school weeks. Could this recipe be any better?!
And look how delicious they look!
Mmm. These really were great. Healthy and chewy and easy to take to work, or pick up for a quick snack before my run. Next time, I would use a bit more wet ingredients, because the bars did tend to break up a bit. I also wouldn't bake them as long. After 35 minutes in the oven, these were a bit more roasted than I would like. But they really were worth making and I will be making them again as soon as I can get out to Bulk Barn!
320g rolled oats
1/3cup plain flour
100mL vegetable oil
200g mild honey (try 100g honey and 100g golden syrup for a deeper flavour)
50g brown sugar
2-3 tbsp smooth peanut butter (or Nutella)
40g shredded, unsweetened coconut
150-200g of assorted nuts and seeds
150-200g assorted dried fruit
Preheat oven to 325°F, and line an 35×25cm (or close) baking pan (Pyrex or a metal cake pan both work) with parchment paper.
Roughly chop the nuts and larger pieces of dried fruit into smaller pieces (about the same size as a sunflower seed). Then place the chopped nuts and fruit into a bowl with the oats, coconut and flour and stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Slightly heat the honey in a pot on the stove, then add the sugar, peanut butter and oil and whisk together thoroughly. Pour together the wet and dry mixture and mix to combine. If the mixture does not seem to stick together well enough, add more honey. Dump the mixture into your prepared pan. Wet your hands with some cold water, and using both the wooden spoon and your hands, pack the mixture down flat, making sure to get it into the corners.
Bake for 25-35 minutes if you prefer a softer, chewier bar, and up to 50-60 minutes if you prefer a crunchier one (the longer baking time will roast the ingredients quite a bit). During the baking process, use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to press down on the mixture every 10-15 minutes.
Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes after baking, then carefully remove from the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. These can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 2 weeks. Keep a sheet of parchment paper between each layer of bars.