I’ve been hatching a plan to replicate a KIND bar for a long time, and I finally followed through. I did a lot of snooping on the food blogs to find a feasible recipe. After looking at a few different versions, it was clear that there was a pretty consistent formula, which was a good sign.
KIND bars were a little bit of an investment because they’re basically all nuts. Also, they are mostly specialty ingredients that I don’t usually keep in my pantry. I found ground flax seed and millet pretty easily, but I had to hunt for the brown rice syrup. Is it a sugar? Is it a syrup? Is it a honey? Is it a gluten free or ethnic food? Turns out in Harris Teeter it’s none of the above. I had to go to Whole Foods and found it in the sugar and sugar alternative section.
I will caution you, the first time I made these they were a complete and expensive fail. I did not boil the syrup and honey mixture for long enough, it didn’t thicken properly, and the bars just fell apart. I can’t remember the last time I was that mad at everything in my kitchen. Even the second time around the bars were pretty sticky, so I recommend cutting them into bite size squares and storing them in your fridge for easy snacking. The taste, nutrition, and general texture are the redeeming factors.
This month, I made a trip to Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA on the way back from visiting my alma mater. One of my memories as a child is going to Hershey Park in the summer to ride all the thrilling amusement rides and to visit Chocolate World. The best part of Chocolate World was the ride inside that detailed the process of making Hershey’s chocolate. As you walk into Chocolate World, you are blown away by the smell of chocolate emanating from the building. The aroma is overwhelming and you become immersed into a magical world where nothing matters except all the chocolate treats that you can purchase there. Needless to say, I went home with a goodie bag.
When i returned home, I felt the need to whip up my very own chocolate creation inspired by Milton Hershey himself. I put a Hershey twist on brownies. I used Pillsbury Dark Chocolate brownie mix and doctored it up to make Almond Joy Brownies. I made the batter as stated on the box, then added 1/2 tsp of coconut extract, 1 tsp of almond extract, and 3/4 cup sliced almonds to the batter.
I poured the batter in a 13×9 inch pan and then topped the batter with coconut flakes. I used Toasted Coconut Chips from Creative Snacks Co. This sample bag was given to me by one of my sales reps this summer. If you use regular coconut, be sure to toast it in the oven before you top off the brownies.
Bake the brownies as directed on the box. The result is a twist on a classic and your dinner guests won’t be able to pass on dessert. Top a brownie with the ice cream of your choice and hot fudge sauce to make an even more irresistible dessert.
So I’m going through a little bit of a granola bar baking phase thanks to the fabulosity of the pumpkin granola bars, that I have made several times at this point. I decided to switch it up a little and try a granola bar recipe from Martha. This recipe is great because it doesn’t have a million ingredients (sometimes granola ingredients can add up quickly), and it had all the best stuff: peanut butter, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and oats!
I decided to make a couple alterations as usual. First, I felt the need to add some mini chocolate chips, of course. And second, I threw in some protein powder just for fun. I will try protein powder in anything these days. Don’t worry, I’m aware that I’m weird. Martha’s recipe only makes an 8 x 8 pan’s worth, but since I was made these for a big group I tripled the recipe and used a full cookie sheet.
To make them more portable I ended up wrapping them individually! They’re a great snack when you’re on the go!
Peanut Butter Almond Granola Bars
Adapted from Martha, yields about 24 bars depending how you slice them.
1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups sliced almonds
1 ½ cups dried cranberries
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 “scoops” protein powder (optional)
1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter ( I used an entire 15 oz jar)
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
9 Tbs oil
1 tsp salt
3 egg whites
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment.
Combine the oats, almonds, cranberries, protein powder, and salt in a bowl.
In a small pot over medium heat, combine sugar, oil, and peanut butter. Cook for about 5 minutes until brown sugar is completely melted.
Pour warm mixture over oat mixture. Stir to combine. When mixture is slightly cooled add egg whites and continue to mix to ensure that the eggs don’t cook.
Spread mixture out on parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle top with mini chocolate chips (if you add them earlier they will just melt into the mixture).