Fall has been so good to us down South and I heard it will continue being so good for so long that we would probably get sick of it soon. Still, it makes me smirk when I see pictures of my friends in fall jackets on facebook. And I just bought a hoodie a couple of days back, wore it early last morning and deemed it inappropriate. It was 5.30 am! Which brings me to explain what I was doing up at that ungodly hour. A week ago, the husband and I registered for the Montgomery Half Marathon’s 5K on a whim, primarily because our friends were running.
I knew I was going to make a fool of myself. Who was I kidding? 3.1 miles? 5 kilometers? I cannot keep myself up on the treadmill for a mile and here I was, registered for the 5K. I was dreading it but decided to show up downtown and try running. I outdid my expectation actually. I am not going to disclose my timing but at the end of the event, I decided that I was going to train better and run the half-marathon next year. Well, at least the 5K.
Though I don’t run much, I do a lot of cross-training, love Zumba and Yoga. On the days that Kishore and I do hit the gym, we work out, feel completely tired and have a granola to get back to normal. Phew! I finally arrived at the food part of this post. I hate Nature Valley’s plain honey granolas but love their fruit and nut mixture. Though Nature Valley is known for its granola range, I sometimes find them a tad too dry for my taste. How do you make slightly moist personalized granola bars? My quest led me to research and end up with my own awesome recipe.
Homemade Fruit and Nut Granola Bars with Coffee induced Chocolate Layer (That was a long name!)
Four cups quick cooking oats like Quakers
Quarter cup maple-syrup/corn-syrup/honey (I used sugar-free maple syrup)
Quarter cup brown sugar
Half cup mixed nuts (I used almonds, pistachios, walnuts but wished I had added a hand full of groundnuts too)
Half cup dried cranberries (if you don’t have some at home, replace with currants)
Half tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch salt
Quarter cup canola or vegetable oil (use butter if you want. I have issues with it though)
Two Tbsps of cold water
For the chocolate layer-
Half cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
One tsp vanilla
A pinch salt
One tsp instant coffee granules like Folgers
Pre-heat oven to 375 °F (190°C). Spread out three cups of oats on one sheet and the rest and the nuts on another (I will tell you why in a bit) Make sure the nuts and the oats don’t mix. Toast both the trays in the oven for 15 minutes, tossing them twice in the middle. While waiting for it to toast, mix everything else, except the chocolate layer, cranberries and water, in a huge bowl. Once the trays are out of the oven, take the one cup of oats you toasted with the nuts and grind it into a coarse meal. The oatmeal gives the granola bars a nice chewy texture.
Mix the oats with the mixture, add the oatmeal, the nuts and the cranberries. If it ends up too thick, add the water to it. You now have the base for the granola. Take a foil-lined rectangular cake tin and pour the mixture into it. Press it in tight and bake in the oven for thirty minutes. When done, pull the foil out and let the granola sheet cool down. Now, if you want ordinary granola bars, this is where you stop. But I strongly suggest you proceed with the chocolate layer.
Mix the chocolate chips, vanilla extract, salt and coffee granules in a microwave safe bowl. Zap it for 30 seconds. Bring it out, stir it and repeat it a couple of times more (basically, make coffee-infused chocolate sauce). Once the granola sheet has cooled, cut it into bars (or whatever shape you fancy) and dip it into the chocolate glaze. Transfer chocolate side up on to a baking sheet and cool till the glaze has set. When done, wrap in wax-paper. These bars will keep well outside for a week in a tightly-lidded jar, up to a month in the fridge and it will also freeze well.
Whoa! What a long post. In compensation, I will not be updating for a week… nah! Not really. I have my finals coming up, that’s why!