Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Crispy Chewy Granola Bar?

When you have items in the pantry that need to be eaten, you find ways to make that happen.  Tasty ways!!  This is my first shot so I'll definitely be back to update this post after I try more combinations!

For now, I'll just call this.....

A QUICKIE GRANOLA BAR  -  9x9 pan, as non-stick as you have or you'll need to 
                                               line it with parchment paper.  Oven:  350 degrees F.

4 T coconut oil                                                                              
2/3 cup honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, etc.  (I used honey)  
1 tsp pure vanilla extract        

Melt coconut oil and honey together; then add the vanilla.  Allow to cool to room temp before combining with the following:

2 cups g-free rolled oats                         
1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal         
dash salt                                                          
1/4 cup diced dried fruit (I used papaya)         
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate                         
(My option for these: 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut)    

Combine all the "dry" ingredients.  Mix thoroughly with "wet" ingredients.  (Go ahead and grease the pan with coconut oil, for good measure...)  Press mixture firmly into the pan.     

Baking took just under 25 minutes so start watching at 20 minutes.  If the edges get too dark, you'll have a major headache getting these babies out of the pan!!

Let them cool for 10 minutes or so THEN gently cut bars/squares.  Allow to cool further in the pan.  Re-cut and remove.

There are endless flavor profiles to be explored here.  Next time, I'm back on the dried cherries/dark chocolate idea!  Maybe some almond extract and a few chopped almonds, too!  I'll not use honey though...  I also want to try a toasted pecan/cinnamon with maple syrup version!  Once again, I'm in trouble!!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Double Chocolate Brownies

I pulled a recipe from again (179831) and did the usual modify-and-test routine.  I cut it in half, mostly because I don't need a 9x13 pan of brownies in my life to haunt me for days on end...and because I didn't want to squander all that lovely chocolate if it didn't work out on the first run.  I also played with pan size and you'll find notes on that at the end of the recipe.  I used a bar of Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet and then just regular semi-sweet chocolate chips that I had left from something else.  I love dark chocolate but if you don't you can stick with all semi-sweet, like the original recipe.

I brought the butter and eggs to room temp; I think it makes the mixing go a little more smoothly.  I didn't want to risk a gritty finished product...

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES    -     Preheat oven - 350 degrees F.

1 1/4 cups sugar        Whisk together sugar and eggs until pale and very smooth.
2 large eggs                        Let set while you melt the chocolate and butter.

4 ounces  60% Bittersweet chocolate        Melt chocolate and butter.  I used the
4 ounces salted butter                        defrost setting and microwaved the chopped
                                                          chocolate until it started to get soft.  Then I 
                                                         added the butter and continued to microwave                                                          and mix until they were completely smooth.
3/4 tsp vanilla                            Add to sugar mixture along with chocolate mixture.

1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour                        Combine flours and fold into
1/4 cup sweet white sorghum flour                      chocolate mixture.
1/4 cup tapioca starch

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips                      Fold in chocolate chips.

Pan size and bake time:  I buttered a ceramic 8.5 in x 6.5 in baking dish (because I've been wanting to use this pan and I like thick brownies!)  Traditionally, use an 8x8 pan.  Spread the batter evenly.  Bake til the center is set, a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, but not runny goo!  It should take about 30 minutes (it was exactly 30 minutes when I used my metal 8x8)...unless you use the pan I did and then expect more like 40 minutes.  

The sides of my chosen dish were a little too slanted, which meant the tops of the edges were thinner and, therefore, ended up more than a little crunchy.  I don't have a problem with crunchy edges as that is the first thing I cut out and eat anyway!  But if you're all about "fudge" with your brownies, make sure your pan has vertical sides.  Or try an individual-squares brownie pan.

I also think these could do with a little less sugar and think I'll remove 1/4 cup for my just-for-me recipe.  But brownies should be what brownies should be so what's a little extra sugar!!  I had to give a lot of these away.....or else eat them for breakfast!!!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

All Natural Gluten Free Granola Bars

I used to make these with whole wheat flour and wheat germ, back in the day.  I tried them today with a gluten-free flour blend, certified g-free oats, pure maple syrup - so I guess that makes them vegan, and struggled to stop creating crumbs so I could keep eating out of the pan.....  

Prep ALL your ingredients first.  THEN turn the oven on - 350 degrees F.

Today's version:

ALL NATURAL GLUTEN FREE GRANOLA BARS - sprayed 9x13 pan (I used Pyrex)

2/3 cup all natural peanut butter (made with only peanuts, I used no-salt-added)
1 cup pure maple syrup or honey
2 2/3 cups g-free rolled oats
1/4-1/3 cup ground pecans (less if fresh, more if dry)
1 cup g-free flour (my combo: 1/4 cup EACH sweet white sorghum, superfine 
                              brown rice, 1/4 cup teff, 1/4 cup tapioca starch)
1 tsp cinnamon (yes, it DOES go well with peanut butter!)
2 cups of add-ins (today's combo: 1/2 cup dried fruit - dates and raisins, 1/2 cup
                             chopped almonds, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup ground
                             flax seeds, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds)

It takes some elbow grease to mix this stuff together well.  Do your best.  Then press it down HARD in the sprayed pan.  Make the top even, no cracks, craters, or empty spots.  With one hand bare and a wide spoon in the other, I press press press press press!!!  You're making BARS here, NOT granola.  Then bake...start checking at 15 minutes for browning edges.  Today's batch was a little more moist and took 17 minutes.  

CUT the bars while still warm.  I use a sturdy spatula and "slice" straight down; no sawing motion or you'll make crumbs.  Then allow them to cool in the pan.  You can use the spatula to re-cut for easy removal.  I individually wrap the bars for easy grab-and-go snacks.

There are endless options with these.  Next on my list: dark chocolate, dried cherries, coconut, almond butter with chopped almonds and ground almonds.  And maybe a little cocoa powder!  

I think using maple syrup makes them more moist and chewy than using honey but I like them both ways.  Play around and see what combo YOU like best!!  (And let me know!)  Oh, and don't eat too many.....these pack a whopper of a calorie count!