Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cherry Chocolate Almond Bars

I've talked about the cost-efficiency of making things from scratch before. Sometimes, when I make a sandwich wrap (is that an oxymoron?), I think to myself "This is a delicious lunch I just made that would be about $8 at a deli" and yet, it just cost me the cost of all ingredients divided by the 10 lunches I'll get out of it. My math skills are sub-par but I think it works out.

When I was involved in college athletics and discovered Cliff bars, it was magical. Except it was really a magical treat because those things are at like $5 each. I have a theory on what food trends will be popular in 2015 and homemade energy bars are right up there.

I guess I shouldn't call these energy bars since they're more like granola bars, I'm not adding fancy Whole Foods materials to them like flax seeds but making a sticky glue to combine nuts and berries. These are great when you're going to travel and want to bring snacks instead of paying $10 for a bag of trail mix at Hudson News.

Based on the contents of my pantry, I collected a variety of nuts and dried fruit that I thought would taste good together. For the glue to hold it together, I used maple syrup and coconut oil. I still had my hair dryer handy so I thought it would work to just melt the coconut oil. If you try this at home, skip the hair dryer and use the stove. The coconut oil took a little longer to melt with the hair dryer and ultimately, the two glue components separated. I think more heat will help them stay together.

Chopped almonds and cherries are mixed together in a square pan lined with parchment paper. This would be very messy if it weren't lined. I sprinkled in some sunflower seeds for good measure too. Carefully pour the syrup-oil mixture over the nuts and berries until it is completely covered. I also added some melted chocolate on top for added sweetness.

Allow the pan to chill in the fridge until the mixture hardens. Ideally, it just hardens and you cut up the bars and enjoy. But what actually happened was the syrup separated to the bottom and the coconut oil separated to the top. Don't get me wrong, these guys are still delicious but they're messier than I would have liked.

I think this problem can be solved in a number of ways. Personally, I just kept it in the freezer and chopped off pieces when I was hungry. Alternatively, next time, I plan to reduce the amount of syrup and heat the syrup and coconut oil together instead of using a hair dryer. I think this will help (recipe listed below reflects these hypotheses).

In retrospect, the syrup and chocolate probably negate the health value but up the delicious factor. You can't really go wrong with cherry and chocolate so enjoy!

  • 1 cup of nuts (almonds, pecans, peanuts, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 cups of dried cherries (or other fruit)
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • Melted chocolate for topping
  1. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang to assist with removing the final product.
  2. Mix together the nuts and dried cherries and pour into the pan.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the syrup and coconut oil over medium heat until the mixture is combined and not as sticky.
  4. Carefully pour the syrup mixture over the nuts and berries.
  5. Lastly, melt the chocolate in the microwave or double broiler (or with a hair dryer) and pour over the top of the nut mixture.
  6. Allow the pan to set in the fridge until firm. 
  7. Carefully remove the bars from the pan by pulling out the parchment paper. Hopefully, everything is set but if not, you can put them in the freezer. 
  8. If like the picture above, the ingredients have separated, I assure you they are still delicious. Keep them wrapped in the freezer until you're ready to eat to minimize the mess. 

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