Thursday, June 13, 2013

energy bars

I recently read the Happiness Project, which has inspired me to consciously and actively enhance my happiness. One of the things I am doing is baking more. I love to bake; it makes me happy, but I often get stuck in the rut of making the same old tried and true recipes at the request of my kids and husband.

Obviously this isn't a bad thing; my favorite chocolate chip cookies are still my favorite, even when I am making them for the umpteenth time. But I also like to try new things, so I decided to bake my way through my favorite cook book, The Joy of Cooking. I have been using this cookbook for 20 years and it rarely disappoints. I like the recipes because they are classic, generally call for ingredients I keep in my pantry and have choices built into the recipes.

At the request of my niece, here is one of the recipes I made the other day, and then again today. They were delicious both times.

Energy Bars (Joy of Cooking, page 765)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 9x9-inch square baking pan lined with foil.

Combine in a medium bowl:
* 1-1/2 cups packed dried fruit (apricots, pitted dates, raisins, figs, cherries, and/or cranberries), coarsely
* 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds
* 1/4 tsp salt (I use salted butter and omit the salt)
* 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Add and stir until well blended:  
* 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
* 1-1/2 tsp vanilla

Press the mixture into the pan. Bake until top is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack. 

The first time I made them, I used dried cherries and pecans. I chopped them all up in my Ninja, which is the best blender I've ever had. I followed the recipe exactly.

Today when I made them, I doubled the recipe and baked them in a cookie sheet (jelly-roll pan). I used dried apples, almonds and coconut. I also used wheat flour for a third of the flour. I forgot to melt the butter this time, I only softened it, which I think is why they did not brown as beautifully. Because they were not as thick in the cookie sheet, I decreased the baking time to 25 minutes.

If I make them again, I will probably cut down a bit on the brown sugar and use more whole wheat flour, to make them a little healthier.