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Sunday, Apr 30, 2017
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From the food editor: How to make Trail Mix Bars, a low-calorie sweet treat

Next week, we debut our Cake Issue of Taste, in which we'll feature recipes, profiles on local bakers, reader stories and more.

Which means that in the past few weeks, I have been interviewing people about cake. Making and photographing cake. Reading about cake.

And, well, eating cake.

Tough job, right?

While I firmly believe cake should be an essential part of everyone's lives, I fear I have become too dependent on the almost daily sugar fix. Really, it has to stop.

So this week's recipe is somewhat of a remedy for the cake overload. Basically, it's an answer to the question: How healthy can you make a sweet treat and still be satisfied by it?

For starters, call the treat "bars" instead of "cookies," and you will probably feel better about eating them.

Okay, nomenclature aside, these Trail Mix Bars are loaded with so many goodies you will hardly notice how little sugar and fat they contain.

The real trick is using a bare sheet pan to cook the bars in one large rectangle, which ensures they cook through and harden up slightly for a crunchy-chewy texture. It's all part of the cookie illusion.

These are very easy to make, another reason I turned to them after a long week of testing layer cakes and buttercream frosting. It's a two-bowl recipe that could easily become a one-bowl recipe if you're one of those people who doesn't always mix their dry ingredients together before adding them to the wet ingredients. (Guilty.)

For this reason and others, Trail Mix Bars are your friend. They freeze really well. They make an ideal to-go breakfast, especially if you slather some peanut butter between two bars and eat it like a sandwich. And best of all, they curb cake cravings.

For the most part.


easy

Trail Mix Bars

Trail Mix Bars

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg (use coconut oil instead for vegan bars)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup to 1 cup chocolate chips, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flours, carrot, coconut, sugar, oats, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together water, egg or oil and vanilla.
  2. Add wet mixture to dry. Mix to combine. Fold in cherries, nuts and chocolate chips if using. (Sometimes I use a chocolate candy bar broken into small pieces if it's all I have on hand.)
  3. Pour batter onto a 9- by 13-inch baking sheet. If the sheet is pretty worn, line it with parchment paper. If it's clean enough, pour the batter directly onto it. Press batter down so it's flat and fills most of the baking sheet. It doesn't need to fill all of it. It's more important that the batter has a uniform thickness throughout.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool for
  5. 2 minutes and then remove to a cool rack to cool completely. Carefully cut into square bars. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Makes about 2 dozen bars.
Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times

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