Thursday, January 13, 2011
CEIMB: Walnut and Dried Cherry Bars
Ahhh, it's so good to finally be back in the swing of things! It seems like it has been forever since I've posted a Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe on time! But this week I was all set and ready to roll. Out assignment this time was to make Ellie's Walnut and Dried Cherry Bars, chosen by Heide of Chez Zero. As I've said before, I am a big fan of nutritious, flavor-packed bars. Granola bars, energy bars, or whatever you want to call them, I am always eager and willing to try a new and different variation on the healthy bar. I've been looking forward to trying this one for a while.
Since this recipe was supposed to be made in an 8x8 inch square baking pan and then cut into 12 equal pieces, I decided to break my brownie pan out of hibernation and put it to good use! You know the brownie pan I'm talking about, right? It's the one from all the infomercials. It has a metal, grid-like insert which you place on top of whatever batter you have spread into the pan. When the bars have fully baked, they are already cut for you! Well, as you can probably see from the above picture, I messed up a little. When I first put the insert into the bars, it was facing the wrong way, so I had to remove it and switch it around. When these came out of the oven, they still had little cuts where the grid had first sliced into them. Other than that little bit of silliness, I am happy to say that these came out wonderfully!
Of course, I had to go off-script just a tad. It's what I do! First, I threw all the dry ingredients into my food processor. I did this because ever since our group made Ellie's Energy Bars a few months back, I've been making all my granola-ish bars that way. It just makes things soooo quick and easy! Simply toss in the dry stuff, whirl it around until there are no longer large bits of anything, and then add the wet ingredients. Once things have just come together, you're ready to spread the concoction into your baking pan and put it into the oven!
I added 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips to my batch, because I just feel like all my healthy bars need a small dose of decadence. It's just the way I am. Also, I had cherry preserves on hand to make another recipe later in the week, so I used those to spread on top of the baked bars rather than apricot preserves. I figured since dried cherries were being used inside the bars, this would work out quite nicely. I have to say, it really did! I loved the interplay of flavor and texture here. I was skeptical about the addition of the preserves at first, but I'm now sold. It almost seemed like there was icing on top, and it tasted great with the bars. I expected more of a crunchy bar here, but these were pleasantly cakey. They resembled a low-fat brownie in texture, and they weren't too sweet. The food processor chopped the walnuts very finely, so there was a lot of nice nutty crunch dispersed throughout the bars. Overall, I would definitely make these again, and I will have fun using different flavor combinations.
Thanks to Heide for the excellent pick! If you'd like the full recipe, it is posted at Food Network, here. And the CEIMB blogroll can be found here.