February 10, 2008

Solar Bars



So, it turns out that blogging begets blog-reading.  I was recently reading a wildly popular food blog, 101 Cookbooks, perusing the recipes and enjoying the photography of Heidi Swanson.  Her recipe for Big Sur Power Bars caught my eye because I have recently given up a favorite snack, Luna bars, due to an oat allergy.  The beauty of home cooking is the freedom to experiment, so I decided to give homemade power bars a try.

It was necessary to buy a few items that had never before seen the inside of my pantry: brown rice syrup, crisped brown rice, and some kind of flaked grain.  Following Ginger's suggestion, I looked for quinoa flakes, but couldn't find them and settled for wheat flakes instead.  I used the Omega Trek Mix blend from Trader Joe's (disclosure: I work for TJ's) with some raisins to supply the nut-and-dried-fruit component of the bars.  

The finished power bars resembled my favorite Luna bar flavor, and were declared delicious by the tasting panel.  I love this recipe because it's adaptable, and it shows you how easy those stylish bars are to replicate.  I would have been too initimidated to try making them on my own.  The recipe below differs a little from the original recipe, and I'm going to keep tweaking to create a firmer bar. 

Solar Bars 
adapted from Heidi Swanson's Big Sur Power Bars (with video)

2 c total dried fruit and nuts (I used Trader Joe's Omega Trek Mix)
2/3 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
11/2 c flaked quinoa or wheat (rolled grain, not cereal flakes)
13/4 c crisped brown rice (or Rice Krispies cereal)
1/4 c wheat bran
c brown rice syrup
1/4 c turbinado or sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t sea salt (optional)

  1. Place a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper over the bottom and sides of an 8X8" pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Toast nuts and coconut on a baking sheet for seven minutes, stirring twice.  Do not toast dried fruit.
  3. Mix the dry grains in a large bowl.  Add nuts, dried fruit, and coconut
  4. Heat rice syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir as it comes to a boil and thickens, about four minutes.  Pour over dry mixture and stir until evenly coated
  5. Press into lined 8X8" pan to create an even layer.  Allow to cool to room temperature and use the paper to gently lift or turn mixture onto a flat surface.  Cut into bars and enjoy!
Makes 16 bars.

I loved the Omega combination of dried cranberries, pepitas, pecans, almonds, and walnuts.  I didn't toast it because of the fruit, and I left the nuts whole for a chunky bar.  The next flavor I'm excited to make includes TJ's new nut mix with rosemary and thyme; I plan to add lemon zest to the syrup during heating.  A blend of candied ginger, cashews, and apricot is also on the list.  

I hope you have fun with this great technique!

Update, Feb. 13:  I wrapped the bars individually in wax paper, which can be rinsed and reused, and am keeping them in the freezer.  I grab one before heading out to work, eat it during the morning, and pass by the Luna bar display with nary a glance.  Hooray!

1 comment:

Heather said...

From Heather at Talk More Later
Hi,
Of course I don't mind if you link to my blog, it is all about community after all.
I'll check out your blog tonight, after work.
Isn't David Lebovitz amazing!
Heather