Hi folks! I'm taking a pass on this week's Tuesday with Dorie (dimpled plum cake) because I've been out of town the past few days. Actually, I'm still away, but thanks to the magic of the internets (and good old-fashioned voodoo), I can still keep my Tuesday rendezvous with you all.
So what's so important that I can't drop everything to make a plum cake? How about...this?
That, my friends, is a tiny little hill known as Half Dome, located in Yosemite National Park. By the time you read this, I will have hiked up to the top of that rock (17 miles round-trip), including a final ascent that is so steep you have to pull yourself up using hand cables. Should be awesome! Check later posts for updates and mucho whining!
Knowing the hike is going to be taxing, I decided to make myself a small granola bar to provide a little energy:
I was all set to wrap up my giant granola bar o' power, until I realized it wouldn't fit in my hydration pack. D'oh! So I followed Plan B: cutting the huge granola slab into about 20 smaller (but still substantial!) granola bars. Let me tell you, these homemade granola bars are awesome. They're soft and chewy, with a good amount of crunch provided by toasted, salted nuts.
It sounds busy, and it kind of is, but in the best way, where every bite is different from the one before. One might have a lot of tangy dried apricots, while the next bite is full of rich, salty macadamia nuts and coconut. You can bet I'm making room in my hiking pack for these bad boys!
Soft Granola Bars
Yields 16-20 good-sized bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts--I used toasted, salted almonds and macadamias
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz dried fruit--I used a mix of 4-5 different kinds
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
Line a 9x13 pan with waxed paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the oats, wheat germ, flax seeds and coconut together and spread them out on a baking sheet (and add your nuts if you are not using toasted nuts). Toast them for 10-12 minutes, stirring after every 2 minutes, until the oats are golden and smell toasted, but not burned.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped nuts, dried fruit, and toasted oats mixture.
In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, vanilla, salt, and peanut butter. Stirring constantly, allow the butter and sugar to melt, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup over the oat mixture in the bowl, and stir very well until the ingredients are well-combined. Scrape the hot granola into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the top with the miniature chocolate chips.
Take another piece of waxed paper, spray it with nonstick spray, and press it, sprayed side down, on top of the granola. You need to really compact the granola so that it will stick together. I placed another 9x13 pan on top of my granola and put 10 lb dumbbells in it to do the work for me, but you could just press really hard with your hands, or use a few heavy cookbooks.
Allow the bars to cool completely, at least 2-3 hours. To serve, pull up on the waxed paper to remove them from the pan. Peel the paper off, and cut them into bars or squares. Wrap them individually in cling wrap to prevent them from sticking together.