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They had us at ‘perfect’! A perfect or best-ever anything is intriguing especially when it’s a recipe, and it’s sampled at the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC), where food writers are eager to compare and analyze food. Since I recently shared my favorite Travel Snack Bars, I was doubly interested in this Perfect Snack Bar by California Almonds. Packed with almonds and almond butter, pumpkin seeds, coconut, currants, honey, and drizzled with chocolate– it was pretty perfect and looked pretty too. Crunchy, nutty, not-too-sweet. Betcha can’t eat just one!
But give me a recipe and I almost can’t stop myself from tweaking or substituting. How many times is there one ingredient missing from my pantry, no matter how carefully I check? This time it was almond flour. So in keeping with the gluten-free theme of the recipe, I substituted coconut flour which was in my freezer and seemed right with the coconut chips in the recipe.
I’ll always remember an interview I heard with a Bon Appetit Magazine editor who said something like, “Our recipes are a guide for your creativity and flavor preference. We just want you to enjoy cooking and eating”. That’s how Rita and I feel too!
In that spirit, here are a couple more revisions: I substituted maple syrup for some of the honey, because I like maple; I baked the bars – the original is unbaked – to make them crunchy vs soft-chewy. I think the bar is quite perfect baked or unbaked.
And how does this one compare to my Travel Snack Bars? Both are darned excellent. Make the one you have the ingredients for!
Note: I was not compensated by IFBC or California Almonds, but was provided a discount to attend the conference reviewed here. For more information about IFBC check these Facebook posts and info about IFBC 2017. Come join us!
PERFECT SNACK BAR
- 1-1/2 cups 7 oz whole California Almonds, raw or toasted
- 1 cup 4.25 oz. raw pumpkin seeds*
- 3/4 cup 3 oz. sliced California Almonds, raw or toasted
- 2/3 cup 2.25 oz old-fashioned oats
- 1-1/4 cups 2 oz. unsweetened coconut chips*
- 1/2 cup 2.25 oz. dried currants, raisins, dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots
- 1/4 cup 1 oz. almond flour or coconut flour
- 2/3 cup 7 oz. honey, or combination honey and maple syrup
- 1/3 cup 3 oz. almond butter, smooth or chunky, salted or unsalted
- 1/2 cup 3 oz. dark chocolate chips, melted (optional)
- Heat oven to 325°F.
- Spread whole almonds, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, oats and coconut chips on a baking sheet. Place in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes while preparing remaining ingredients.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring honey (and maple syrup if using) to a simmer. Simmer at a full simmer for 4 minutes stirring and watching carefully that it doesn't boil over. If you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should heat to 220-240°F. OR, microwave in a 2-cup Pyrex 3-4 minutes, stirring every minute to prevent bubbling over.
- Stir almond butter into the honey mixture. Heat 1 more minute, stirring constantly.
- Place hot nut mix in a large bowl; stir in almond flour and dried fruit. Quickly add honey-almond butter mixture. Stir quickly and thoroughly until mixture is evenly coated.
- Press warm mixture onto a parchment or foil lined baking sheet to about 3/8-inch or thickness of the whole almonds. It should nearly cover a 13×18-inch baking sheet. I place a second sheet of parchment over and press/roll firmly with a rolling pin or hands to flatten. For soft-chewy bars, cool completely then cut. Drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.
- For crisper bars, bake at 325°F for 15 minutes or until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and cool on pan about 10 minutes. While still warm, slide onto cutting board with the parchment or foil; cut into bars with a sharp knife. The center bars may be less crisp but the bars will crisp up when cool.
- For very crispy bars let stand 15 minutes after cutting, then divide bars between two baking sheets so there is space between them. Bake at 325°F additional 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.