I’m still feeling a little under the weather but decided to make Heidi’s Big Sur Power Bars to hopefully give myself a boost of much needed energy. We ran errands today and did some light shopping at Whole Foods where I found all the healthy ingredients needed (i.e. brown rice crisp cereal).
Ever since I read Heidi’s recipe I’ve been thinking about how I would customize the power bars. My parents have been visiting since before Christmas and they brought me about 2-3 pounds of hickory nuts from our farm in Michigan (see pic below — it’s the view from behind our house/barns). I’ve never ever seen hickory nuts for sale anywhere, but on our farm we have 2 mature trees. The nuts have a maple-like flavor, very distinct and delicious. We used them to make hickory nut pies, hickory nut ice cream …. the list goes on and on.
My parents pick the nuts off the ground in the Fall, then shuck the nuts during the winter while they watch TV. The nut shells are incredible hard to crack and you have to use a small metal tool to pick out the nut meats, so it’s with great honor I have so many stashed in my freezer. I replaced the pecans for hickory nuts in the original recipe and paired them with slivered almonds.
Per Heidi’s recipe, I mixed the nuts and coconut on a baking sheet. I opted to include 1/4 cup flax seed to the recipe and added the rolled oats to the baking sheet. I figured it couldn’t hurt to toast the oats as well.
When it came time to add the cooked syrup to the dry ingredients, I added 1 cup of dried blueberries and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Since I was using cinnamon, I didn’t use the espresso powder. The aroma at this point was near intoxicating. I stirred everything together and placed into the greased pan. I toasted 1/3 cup sesame seeds and pressed them firmly into the top. Then, I tried to keep myself busy while they cooled … I hate being patient :-)
The end result was a very very very yummy power bar, chewy and sweet. I made them in a 9×13 pan, then cut into 36 pieces. I wanted smaller servings so I could take them to my brother’s Super Bowl party tomorrow. I decided to go Martha Stewart on the power bars and individually wrapped them in wax paper. I think they make a perfect sweet treat to nibble on during the game. I’ll admit, I have no clue who is even playing in the game. I’m going to spend the day eating and watching the TV commercials!
The family, both young and old, loved the power bars! The sesame topping received the most comments, everyone enjoyed the toasted nutty flavor it brought to the bar. I will make them again — I’ve had a hard time keeping my hands off them. There’s one left and I’m trying to hold out another day before eating it … just so it lasts a little bit longer.
As a re-cap, here’s the recipe with my adjustments:
adapted from 101cookbooks.com, Big Sur Power Bars
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup hickory nuts, chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup flax seed
1/3 cup sesame seeds (raw)
2/3 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with the butter. I used a 9×13 pan in order to yield 36 small bars.
On a rimmed baking sheet toast the hickory nuts, almonds, coconut, oats, and flax for about 7-9 minutes, or until coconut is golden brown. I stirred it twice during the baking to make sure everything baked evenly. Place the baking sheet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and add the blueberries, cinnamon, and brown rice cereal.
Using a small skillet, heat the sesame seeds over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly so the seeds do not burn — remove from heat when they become golden in color.
Combine the rice syrup, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly as it come to a boil and thickens — about 4 minutes. Pour syrup over the dry mixture and stir until evenly incorporated.
Spread into the prepared pan. With buttered hands, pat the mixture into place in the pan. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and press again. Cool to room temperature before slicing. I found it easiest to tip them out of the pan before attempting to cut. Wrap individually in parchment paper (I was out, so used waxed paper).