Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Mad genius

UPDATED: I just realized I left out an important ingredient for the Apple Walnut bar recipe. On the off chance that you rushed to the kitchen to make these and they ended up tasting gross or at best incredibly boring, it's because of this oversight. Sorry about that. I amended the recipe below.

I've come a long way since my initial foray into making my own energy bars. I think I've got a good handle on the process. Full disclosure: Hannah rarely eats any of them now, but I think that's a learned response from a couple not-so-good batches early on.

While I started by using recipes from Brendan Brazier's Thrive, I've deviated far enough that I feel fine sharing my current iterations on my blog. I've gone the Lara Bar route and have really pared down the ingredients. That makes for a smaller margin of error and -- I think -- a better taste.

Also inspired by Lara Bar, I just made a coffee-based bar, which is probably the single greatest-tasting thing I've ever created. I'll explain how I made that batch as well as one of my easy standards.

What you'll need:
- Food processor
- Flat surface (you can probably use your floor if it's clean enough... or a cutting board, whatever)
- Rolling pin
- Plastic wrap
- Knife
- Common sense

Apple Walnut
- 1 cup dates (You can use fresh dates, but I've found dried dates work better. Use the highest quality dates you can find. Buy them from the produce aisle, not the ones from the middle of the store.)
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 small apple, cored and peeled (I usually start with half the apple and depending on how dry everything is, add additional chunks of the apple as needed)
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (I don't think this is essential, but since I'm still working my way through the package, I continue to use it.)
- 1 tbsp hemp protein (Like the flaxseed, this probably isn't essential, but it was expensive and I have half a container left, so I continue to use it. I don't recommend whey protein though; I've had bad experiences experimenting with that.)
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon

1) Add everything to the food processor and let it do its thing. Process longer for a smoother bar or shorter for more chunky.
2) Dump it all out on a cutting board (or your clean floor).
3) Form it into a flat brick, about an inch thick. This is where the rolling pin and plastic wrap come in. I don't even use the rolling pin anymore; I just cover the mass with plastic wrap and form it by hand. When you're done, you should have a long, flat sheet, about an inch thick and about three inches wide.
4) Cut it into bars. Everything may be moist and sticky. If really moist (that is, gooey), I'll put the bars on a baking sheet or wire rack and add them to the oven set really low (between 170 and 200 degrees). Then I let them dehydrate. I imagine a dehydrator would work just as well.
5) When everything's all done, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer so they'll firm up even more and so they'll keep longer. You can probably leave them in a cupboard or in the fridge, but remember that cut fruit and room temperature don't go so well together for very long.

And now, the best thing ever:
Dark Chocolate Mocha
I think "mocha" actually means the combination of chocolate and coffee, so that name is probably redundantly redundant. How about Mocha Hazelnut?

And now, the best thing ever:
Dark Chocolate Mocha
Mocha Hazelnut
- 1 cup dates
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup (or less, I eyeball it) almonds
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (Definitely not necessary, but I had it out on the counter.)
- 1 tsp ground coffee (Use good stuff, not Folgers. I used the "San Angelo Blend" from Eggemeyers that we've had in our fridge for a few months.)
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup soft dark chocolate (I don't know the technical term for this. Basically, since I had no wet ingredients except for the dates, I slowly heated dark chocolate chips until they began to melt. I also tossed in some remaining raw carob chips I had in the cupboard.)

Follow all the steps from the Apple Walnut recipe, except start by processing the dates and all the dry ingredients, then gradually add the soft chocolate so it mixes evenly. Once mixed together, you can form it into bars as noted above.

So there you go. There are a couple other recipes I've played around with, the most successful of which is Ginger Pear. I'll write about another day when I get it closer in quality to the two from this post. I also recently gave one of Brendan Brazier's energy gel recipes a go. I'll share that debacle another day. I can't think of a more appropriate word to define "gel" than "chewy."

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