Sunday, January 24, 2010

Breakfast in a bar..

True to form and most cooks, I cannot seem to make it through a single attempt at a recipe without adapting it to my own particular taste and style. Add this, remove that... bake longer, cool less. Whatever it may be, it seems to be what makes cooking more enjoyable.

The original breakfast bars recipe came courtesy of Nigella Lawson and her cookbook, Nigella Express. She didn't underestimate the allure of these bars when she confessed that not only she, but everyone she has given them to, has become happily addicted to them.

Enjoyment aside, these bars have been a lifesaver. I made them before a week-long business trip and saved myself many a miserable breakfast search. And I've saved myself from a coffee shop turnover by keeping a container of these bars in my office at work. Have I sold you yet??

Here is my tweaked version of Nigella's Breakfast Bars:

- 600 mL (2 cans) of condensed milk
- 400g (4 1/2 cups) of rolled oats (not the instant version!)
- 125g (1 cup) of shredded coconut
- 180g (1 1/2 cups) of cranberries
- 200g (1 1/2 cups) of mixed seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin kernels, sesame... whatever!)
- 200g (1 1/2 cups) of peanuts (or other nuts)
- 2 pinches of nutmeg
- 2 pinches of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

** For the coconut, seeds and nuts, I used unsalted/unsweetened versions. You can always omit the peanuts (in case of an allergy) and sub in other seeds or dried fruits.

Heat the oven to 250 F.

In a saucepan, heat -very gently- the condensed milk. You will want to keep this on a very low heat to avoid scalding the milk. Slow and steady in this case..

While the milk warms, mix together the rolled oats, coconut, cranberries, seeds, nuts, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl. Remove the warmed milk from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour over the oat mixture and stir to coat.

Spread the mixture into a baking pan and press to even it out. Bake the mixture for one hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Cut into squares or bars.

Now, if you'd like to kick these up another notch, try this...
Melt chocolate in a saucepan (or microwave). Carefully dip one side of the bar into the chocolate, then set the bars on a cooling rack (dipped side up). Allow to cool completely before storing.

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