Monday, July 5, 2010

Carb Addicts Cure

Hi, my name is Margot and I am a carbaholic. I love sugar and I love flour. This is not a bad thing in moderation, but as I get older I find that it can have lasting side effects (going up a jean size). Most recently this has become an issue at around 3pm during the work day. I have been at work for a while and the need to have some type of baked good becomes so strong I start daydreaming about dancing cupcakes. On my weaker days this leads me to the dreaded vending machine and I consume items with the word “Hostess” on the front. Oh, the shame!

During one of these manic episodes I was reminded of an episode of Alton Browns “Good Eats” that featured a recipe for granola bars. In traditional Alton style he discussed the benefits of making them yourself versus purchasing them: less sugar, less fat, all natural ingredients, cheaper and the most important, BETTER TASTE! I hatched a plan to find the recipe and make them this weekend.

Using Alton’s recipe as a guide I made a few changes to suit them to my personal tastes (meaning chocolate). If you want Alton’s original recipe you can easily find here. This is the one I used:
  • 8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup sliced nuts – I used pecans and almonds
  • 1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
  • 1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 4 ounces organic semisweet chocolate, such as Dagoba, chopped

Butter a 9 by 11-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure you watch this carefully as they are toasting as they can go from toasted to burning very quickly.

(after 15 minutes this is what the oat mixture looked like, and it smelled wonderful!)

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the golden raisins and chopped chocolate, stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. When they come out of the oven they will still be soft and will set while cooling. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

(the whole mixture fresh out of the oven)

The granola bars were delicious with just enough chocolate and sweetness to curb the monster within. The sunflower seeds really amp up the nutty flavor while the pre-toasting of the nut and oat mixture add another layer of complexity to the bars. These granola bars are far superior to the ones that you get in the store and not that difficult to make, so they will be made again.

What a perfect weekend to declare my independence from the vending machine!




Debbie said...

I know just what you mean about that 3pm carb craving! I have been wanting to make my own granola bars for a while now too, thanks for the recipe!

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

These look like the perfect, natural on the go snack! I am ALWAYS hungry :)

Magic of Spice said...

Great recipe, and would have to stick with the chocolate add too:)