Monday, January 7, 2013

Crunchy Energy Bars

These bars are super easy to make and in my opinion put other bars like Lara Bars to shame.  Think salty, sweet, and crunchy compared to thick and pasty.  I almost always make a batch of these before an outdoor trip because they provide plenty of quick energy and are tough enough you can just throw them in a bag with some other food and they wont get crushed.  Sometimes I like to add a little kick to the bars by adding a dusting of cayenne.

1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I like the large flake variety)
1/4 cup honey ( I like 1/4 cup but you could use 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter)
2T Butter or coconut oil/manna (The coconut oil tends to make them a bit greasy)
1tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (raises, dates, etc.)
Dusting of cayenne (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Rough chop the nuts using a knife or food processor.  Do not over chop.  Think about cutting a cashew into 1/3-1/4 no smaller.  Add the chopped nuts, seeds, and coconut to a large bowl.  In a bowl or measuring cup mix together the honey, vanilla, and butter/coconut product.  Heat honey mixture in microwave if needed to get to a more liquid state.  Add to nuts and mix.  Add salt and mix again. 

Spread nut and honey mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 minutes, re-spreading the mixture once to cook evenly.  After 10 minutes mix in the 1/2 cup dried fruit and bake for another 10 minutes stirring once.

Remove the mixture from oven and pour into a large bowl.  Do not let it cool on the parchment paper as you will not be able to remove it without sticking.  Let mixture cool until you can easily handle it with your hands, yet not cool enough that it is rock hard.  This should take about 10-15 minutes. 

When cool, form into bars with your hands by compressing the mixture between your two hands.  You need to use pressure to initially hold the bars together until they cool.  I like to form bars that resemble a Clif Bar.  About 1/2" thick X 3" long and slightly oval shaped.  You however, can make any shape you want just realize they will become hard when cool so ball shapes aren't easy to eat.

Let shaped bars cool in room temp for about an hour then toss into fridge.

Have a wonderful winter season!

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