Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Chocoatnut Bars": Chocolate-Coconut-Oat Bar Cookies

I'm sure you all remember those gooey, chewy, and deliciously sweet Hello Dolly Bars, also referred to as 7-Layer Bars. (Your family may have had their own name for them as well--my husband asks for these bar cookies by the ingredient list, but doesn't know them by any name I am familiar with.) This recipe has a similar flavor, but instead of layering the ingredients, they are simply all mixed together and baked into a dense cookie that could almost--almost--pass as an energy bar (note: I am not making any claims to their nutritional value, though they are hearty and well-balanced). This is another small-batch recipe: Depending on the size of your sweet tooth, this makes between 4 and 6 bars. I still haven't come up with a great name for them--I'm working on it. The recipe I used calls them "Triple Threat Bars." While this might be catchy, I don't like thinking of any food as a threat. They are more like "Survival Bars," or better yet, "Triple Treat Bars." That's more like it. These are amazing to pack in lunches--yours or someone else's--or as a small treat after dinner. They can even pass as breakfast! Give these a try, and feel free to double or triple the recipe to make them for a crowd. Enjoy!

Survival Bars ("Chocoatnut" Bars)
(adapted from Small-Batch Baking)

Equipment: small baking dish (5 x 3 inches or so), foil, cooking spray
1/4 cup plus 2 T old-fashioned rolled oats
3 T all-purpose flour
3 T packed dark brown sugar (light would be fine, though it would not have as deep a molasses flavor)
3 T sweetened flaked coconut (the kind found near the chocolate chips on the baking aisle)
2 T chopped pecans (any nuts would be fine--cashews or macadamia nuts would be great)
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or a combination of different chips)
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled (melt this first to give it time to cool)
2 tsp. well-beaten egg or egg substitute
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line the bottom of the pan with foil--enough to extend over the edges by 1-2 inches. Smooth it out into the corners and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Toss the oats, flour, brown sugar, coconut, pecans, chocolate chips, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Pour the melted butter, beaten egg, and vanilla in a small bowl and beat with a fork or small whisk to blend. Add egg mixture to oats mixture and stir until blended.
4. Spoon batter into prepared baking dish and smooth the top, making sure it is an even layer. Bake until it is set and pulls away from the edges slightly--about 22 minutes.
5. Cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10-20 minutes. Then gently pull the foil out of the pan and allow it to cool completely on the rack. When it is completely cool, cut into bars.

Nutritional Info.: (for 4 bars) 200 calories, 11.5 grams of fat (sat. 5.7), 30.8 g protein

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