Saturday, September 13, 2014

Peanut butter-pretzel energy bars

This past weekend I was lucky enough to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in beautiful Santa Barbara.  39.3 miles in 2 bars were definitely going to be necessary!!  I thought it would be fun to make some nutty, salty-sweet ones for the amazing & awesome girls on my "team" instead of buying them.

I pretty much tried to copy a few of my favorite MOJO bars, and although they were all good, the actual recipe for this one came out the best (I'll work on the others, cuz they were all delish).  They are PACKED with nuts and not too sweet at all.  I love the pretzel-peanut-almond combo.  Don't the candy thermometer and talk of the "hard ball stage" scare you...they are actually pretty easy and cost pennies on the dollar compared to the price of just one bar at the market.

Here is a visual on the powdered peanut butter that the recipe calls for.  It's really fun stuff - would be great for smoothies, other baking, etc.  It's full peanut taste with 85% less fat!  I found mine at Whole Foods in the peanut butter aisle.

Makes 20 bars

1/2 c. whole roasted almonds
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 c. roasted peanuts
1/2 c. chopped roasted peanuts (it helps to have smaller pieces to bind the bars together more)
1 1/2 c. roughly-broken, salted pretzels
1 c. puffed millet or puffed rice cereal
2 T. hemp seeds
2 T. powdered peanut butter (i.e. PB2)

1/3 c. brown rice syrup
1/2 c. honey
generous pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla

Before you begin, lightly oil a large bowl, a silicone spatula, a 9 x 13 rimmed baking sheet and the bottom of something flat for pressing your bars into the pan, like a glass or mug.

Combine all the nuts, pretzels, millet, hemp seeds and powdered peanut butter in the oiled bowl and mix well to combine.

In a small saucepan (1 - 1.5 quart) combine the brown rice syrup, honey, salt & vanilla and stir until mixed.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 250-260 degrees - the “hard ball” stage.  Immediately remove from the heat and pour sugar mixture over nuts, mixing with oiled spatula, until thoroughly coated (work fast here!).

Quickly pour the nut mixture onto the oiled sheet pan and press to fill evenly.  Use your oiled glass mug to pack it down firmly.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

While still a little bit warm, invert your sheet pan onto a cutting board lined with parchment or wax paper (it’s a bit sticky).  Cut the whole rectangle into quarters and then cut each quarter into 5 bars.

Allow to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container with wax or parchment paper between layers (again, a bit sticky!). 

NOTE:  When taking them on the road, I’d suggest wrapping them individually in wax or parchment paper, and tying them with a cute string makes them even tastier :).

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