Sunday, June 15, 2014

Homemade (copycat) dark chocolate cherry KIND bars

I don't eat nuts. For some reason, the texture of them don't agree with me. Maybe because I have funky shaped teeth, and nuts always, always get stuck in between my teeth or maybe it's because they just don't taste that good. Well, I am happy to say that I have found a way that I will eat nuts. Enter KIND bars.

My cooking friends were raving about KIND bars, and I was the clueless girl in the corner who had never heard of them (and didn't care for them since they had nuts). They were supposed to be all kinds of amazing, despite their hefty price tag (about $1.40 per bar, on average). One of my cooking friends shared a link to a blog that had successfully created a copycat version of KIND bars. I was intrigued and decided to finally see what the fuss was all about. I bought a dark chocolate cherry KIND bar at the grocery store and ate it one day before skating. Mind = blown.

Not only did the bar taste just like dark chocolate and cherries, but I actually didn't mind the texture of the nuts. The almonds did poke my teeth occasionally, but I was able to tolerate them and not spit them out. I decided to try the homemade version and bought most of my ingredients at the bulk bin at Whole Foods. The original author claims that this entire batch of KIND bars only cost about $0.44 each. That's what I call savings!

And how did these taste? At a fraction of the cost of the retail bars, these homemade ones are hard to beat. I did get a little almond-happy so next time I think I'll dial back on those and increase the amount of dried cherries and puffed rice. My husband ate one before I added the chocolate drizzle and said that they were just OK. After the drizzle was added, he said that they were pretty fantastic. Save yourself some money and make your own KIND bars. You can customize it to your tastes and add more or less of the ingredients you like.

Homemade dark chocolate cherry KIND bars
Nut mixture
  • 2 cups whole roasted* unsalted almonds
  • 3/4 cup whole roasted* unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup puffed millet/rice/other puffed whole grain; can substitute crispy brown rice cereal
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (I was only able to find whole flaxseed and just pulsed it in my high speed blender to make flaxseed meal)

Syrup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup (can substitute light corn syrup)
  • 1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate (thawed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate drizzle
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 TBSP vegetable, grapeseed, or coconut oil

*If the nuts aren't pre-roasted, lay them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F until they are lightly toasted.

Directions
For the nut mixture: Generously grease the following: one large bowl, a 9"x13" baking sheet/pan, a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and the bottom of drinking glass. Set aside.

In the large (greased) bowl, add the almonds, cashews, dried cherries, raisins, puffed rice/millet and flaxseed meal. Mix well with the greased spoon/spatula and set aside.

For the syrup: In a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the honey, brown rice syrup (or corn syrup), apple juice concentrate, salt, and vanilla. Keep stirring and continue heating until the syrup is 260 degrees F (at hard ball stage). You'll want to use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.

Once the syrup reaches 260 degrees F, quickly pour it over the bowl with the nut mixture and work fast to mix everything together. Transfer the nut/syrup mixture into your prepared 9"x13" baking pan. Spread the mixture evenly and use the bottom of your greased drinking glass to press down on the mixture.

Cool the bars completely and cut into ~20 bars.

For the drizzle: Melt the chocolate chips and oil in 30-second bursts in the microwave. Stir the chocolate mixture until it is smooth. Using a fork or pastry bag, drizzle the chocolate on top of each bar. Allow the chocolate to cool completely and harden before serving.

Bars should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about 1 week. They can also be refrigerated or frozen. You may want to separate each layer of bars with wax paper or parchment paper to prevent them from sticking to each other. Bars can also be individually wrapped in parchment or waxed paper.

Yield: About 20 bars

Source: The Yummy Life


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