November 18, 2013

Coconut Almond Bars


To bring happiness to others, we must be happiness. 
Thich Nhat Hanh

For the past several weeks, I have been cranking out batches and batches of these Coconut Almond Bars - I can't seem to keep them in-stock. Chewy, with a nice crunchy snap, these "energy bars" are packed full of protein, are gluten free and not too sweet. These are my take on the Kind Bars available at most grocery stores, and they came about one day after watching Brian eat four (!) Kind Bars in one sitting, as I mentally calculated the cost. In this house, frugality is the mother of invention. So right then and there I decided I would start making them.  This version contains no sugar or oil and is made with a few very simple ingredients - all healthy and good for you. They are easy to whip up, but do require one piece of valuable kitchen equipment- a candy thermometer -which can be found at your grocery store. This basic recipe can be used as a jumping-off point to create your own personalized version.



{A little side note- I recently opened a very small kitchen store with my good friend Jill filled with a few things I love to use at home in my own kitchen. It's called Bowl and Pitcher….take a gander when you get a chance!! }


The basic recipe contains only unsweetened coconut, nuts, honey and pinch of salt. That's it.
Sometimes I'll add chia seeds, sesame seeds,  flax seeds or dried fruit. But most of the time I keep them fairly simple. You could also add puffed rice or millet or flavor with vanilla or spices.



A COUPLE TIPS:
1. Lightly toast the coconut and nuts. 
2. The most important thing is heating the honey to a very specific temperature ..to 270 F.  
Hence, the need for the candy thermometer.
3. Cut the bars after they cool, but before they cool completely. This prevents breaking.





Heat the honey, water and a pinch of salt, on med-low heat until it reaches 270F (hard ball stage) on a candy thermometer.

If you heat the honey any longer it will still taste good, but result in a very brittle bar.
Heating the honey may take longer than you think….about 20 minutes on med-low heat.

And I have found that once the honey reaches 250F, don't walk away. It will go quickly from there.


While the honey is heating, lightly toast nuts and coconut.  10 minutes @ 325F is plenty.

Once the honey reaches 270F, stir in the toasted nuts and coconut mixture into the same pot, coating well. It will seem like a fairly dry mixture, but just stir until everything is lightly and evenly coated.  Place on a  parchment lined baking dish, 8 by 8 inches.

Spray the top of a spatula, or the bottom of a glass with cooking spray and use it to press down the mixture very firmly so it is compressed and flattened and pressed down into all the corners.  That's it. Let it sit at room temp for 45 minutes and flip out of the pan onto a cutting board. Cut. You want to cut these before they completely cool. If you miss your window and allow them to completely cool, you can still cut them, but they may crumble. To prevent this, place in a warm oven for just a few minutes, to soften. 







Remove it from the bake dish- it will feel solid, flip it over, and using a sharp knife, cut into any size portion you like. 



STORAGE TIP: Allow to cool completely before transferring to airtight storage container with parchment paper between layers. For take-along convenience, use parchment paper and string to wrap individual bars. Store at room temperature for up to 10 days.


These would also make a really nice gift.










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print recipe

Coconut Almond Bars
Healthy gluten free granola bars with nuts, coconut and honey.

Ingredients:
¾  C raw Almonds, lightly toasted
¾ C raw Cashews, lightly toasted
1 ½  C unsweetened Coconut FLAKES, lightly toasted
½ C honey
3 T water
Generous pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Other ingredients to add: dried fruit, any other nut, seeds (chia, sesame, flax, poppy), vanilla, puffed rice or millet.


INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat Oven to 325F. Heat honey, salt, water and vanilla(optional) in a small pot over medium heat until it starts bubbling. Stir occasionally. Lower to med-low heat and continue simmering uncovered until honey reaches 270F. This will take about 25 minutes on med low heat, and will happen rapidly once it reaches 250F.

While honey mixture is heating, lightly toast nuts and coconut, just until coconut is fragrant and lightly golden about 8-10 minutes.

When honey has reached 270F,  turn heat off and pour  the nuts and coconuts into the pot, stirring well to coat. Mixture may seem dry, but just keep mixing, until evenly coated. Spread out on a parchment lined 8x8 inch pan, or baking sheet, to about ¾ inch thick. 

Using a greased spatula, spread out evenly and press down firmly, compressing it down as much as you can. Cover with parchment and use the bottom of a cup or pot or even your hands (if its not too hot) and press down really hard, compacting it as much as possible. This will help the bars stay together when you go to cut them.  Let cool uncovered on the kitchen counter for 45 minutes.

Once it has cooled, flip onto a cutting board (in one piece) and with a big sharp knife, cut bars before they cool down completely. ( Otherwise they will break when you try to cut them). After you cut them, let them cool down completely on parchment  ( a couple hours) before storing. Store in an air tight container layered with parchment, or just leave them on the counter like I do and watch them disappear. Or wrap them individually with parchment and string.


Details  Prep time: Cook time: 50Total time: 1Yield: 10 bars

26 comments:

  1. The bars looks so good, all great things packed in one.

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  2. I would like to try this at home Sylvia. Surely this Coconut Almond Bar is another chef expertise. I will try a different peanut since almond has been rare in our town. My kids love sweets and this one is new to them.

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  3. The bars look great, but gosh, I'm so distracted by all the lovely things: the scissors, the copper pot, what looks like an old percolator on the stove, the baking dish. Love! Haha, easily distracted....love it. :)

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  4. I love this recipe, no sugar - no oil :) I am all for it. As you mention, I never soaked my nuts to use in bars - I am excited to try it after reading your post. Do you think it will decrease the shelf life compare to dry nuts?

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  5. Hi,

    Can you use rice syrup or agave instead of honey?

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    1. So, I tried using rice syrup and when heated to 255F, it became rock hard and I had to throw it out. I didn't play around with it enough to see if it could work if heated to a lower temp. If you try it, please let me know, Im curious. Have not tried with agave.

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  7. English Vegan CookingDecember 24, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Just made these, and they are currently cooling! I have been searching for a recipe for quite a while now that is a good 'snack bar' recipe for my husband to take to work. I am looking forward to seeing what he thinks of them when they are cool! I put vegan chocolate chips in them too...the really smell good!! Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

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    1. Great! Let me know what you think. Cheers!

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  8. The bars taste great! The only problem I had was cutting them into bars they just broke up into chunks, maybe I let them cool too long. I have tried many healthy bar recipes and this one by far tastes the best. Thank you for the recipe!

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    1. Christina, cut the bars before they completely cool down, when they are still just slightly soft, about 20 minutes after putting it together.

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  9. How well would these freeze to have a longer "shelf life"?

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    1. Im not sure….If you try freezing, please let us know!!!

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  10. Hi Sylvia! I'm gonna make those today :) I was wondering if I could add oats and dried fruit?

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    1. I think that would work, but you many need to increase the honey/water…so it doesn't get too dry.

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    2. I'm going to try them without the coconut- I'm allergic!

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  11. The first time I made these they were perfect, but the last 2 times they haven't set. I'm wondering if my candy thermometer might be out as it's definitely reading 260F. Awesome recipe!

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  12. These are great! I added chia too. You nailed the Kind bar with this recipe for sure. Thank you.

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  13. any idea how many carbs per recipe?

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  14. These look so good and must be so crunchy!

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