Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Homemade "Bars"

Starboy loves him some Bars.

Trader Joe's sells them, "So This Blueberry Walks Into a Bar..." They look like granola bars, to fool us into thinking they are sort of healthy, but basically they are cookies. That's what he likes about them.

Starboy "helps" make the bars, by ransacking the utensil drawer and demanding the name and function of each item he finds.

I have an ├╝ber-granola friend, whom I'll call Natural Mama for now, who found a great recipe online to make them at home. They are sweeter and tastier than the prepackaged ones. Natural Mama's source adapted the recipe from GroupRecipes (which has a lot of delicious variations if you search "fig bar," and good luck resisting if you try "fig goat cheese"), and I have a few tweaks on that version.

The great recipes are for fig bars, but personally I prefer a berry filling for both the sweetness and the consistency.

Homemade Jam Bars
similar to Trader Joe's soft cereal bars
slightly adapted from GroupRecipes and Cate's World Kitchen

makes about 20 cookies

• about a pint of fresh berries, washed and chopped if large
• about 1/2 bag frozen mixed berries
• 1/4 cup sugar

Cook berries and sugar together until they form a thick jam, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, about 20 mins.

Notes: If you're really in a "jam," you can use a good, farmer's market jam, or even a thick jam from a jar, rather than making your own. (See the links above for making authentic fig bars.)

1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
1 Tbsp milk (Natural Mama uses almond milk)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups white whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Cream butter in a stand mixer, then beat in the egg, vanilla and milk.

Gradually add the sugar and mix well. Add the flour, baking soda and salt, and stir until just combined. Divide the dough in half, as it's much easier to work with this way.

Working on a sheet of waxed paper, pat half the dough into a long, thin rectangle. Place another sheet of waxed paper on top, and roll until 1/8" thin or so.

Spread half of the jam filling along half of your rectangle (the long half), to the edges. Fold the unfilled side onto the filled side and press gently to seal.

Cut into 1" strips and place them on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat steps with second half of dough.

Bake 15 mins at 350˚ or until just beginning to brown. I like them a bit crunchy.

Allow to cool fully before enjoying—jam filling can be incredibly hot, especially to little tongues!

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