I was recently reading Peas and Thank You when I came upon this post. I don’t know what it was, but something about homemade cereal bars really struck me. I used to eat the Nutrigrain Bars growing-up for a healthy breakfast replacement or good snack. Something nutritious, right? Well now, after seeing all of the ingredients, I’m not so positive. Sure it’s no Snickers, but sometimes I wonder if it’s better to go for the real thing that makes no apologies (Snickers) than something that pretends to be healthy. I also have some late nights, with school after work, so I decided a homemade snack would be the perfect remedy. I therefore set aside a little time yesterday (these are incredibly fast to make) and got to work.
Sarah’s recipe is vegan-friendly, so this recipe called for ingredients I lacked, such as Earth Balance. Due to budget, I decided to go on my own road and use what I had available. This meant butter instead of Earth Balance and regular flour instead of wholewheat pastry flour. I then went to the store and picked up some jam. Here’s what I chose
I looked at the ingredients and it seemed pretty safe. Plus, this brand was on sale. Score! So excited by my jam find, I forgot to look for my other ingredient, namely applesauce. However when I arrived home, I wrongly decided that the applesauce wasn’t necessary since I was using butter. It never occurred to me there could be a specific reason, separate from Earth Balance. So I ditched the applesauce and merrily moved along. Here’s the butter entering the dry mix
Then things went wrong. The mix was just way too dry and not coming together the way a batter should. Doh! It needed the applesauce for moisture. So I panicked and wondered what to do. H seemed a little dubious but I decided to fix it. Worst case scenario? I waste some oats and butter. Not ideal, but not jail-worthy either. So I threw in an egg and mashed the mix together with my hands. Still no dice. A small part of me considered a tbsp of vegetable oil but that seemed a little too scary and riske for my baking level. So I went to safety net #2 – milk. 1/4 cup entered the party. Better but not great. Another 1/4 cup. The mix was starting to moisten so I decided to go for it. Here are the bars pre-oven
Into the oven they went. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I periodically opened the oven to check on them. (Bad baker, I know.) They never rose but I’m not really sure why I expected that would happen. After 20-some minutes, they exited the oven and were placed upon a cooling rack. Sarah wasn’t kidding when she said let them cool completely. And that’s not ten minutes. A good thirty minutes at least. I was nervous when I cut into the dish but I think they came out pretty well. They don’t stick together as perfectly as I would’ve liked, but they’re not falling apart either. Ironically, I like the jam the least. Way too sweet for my buds. It’s also the part that tastes most like actual Nutrigrain Bars. I mean that in a bad way. Perhaps I’m a little too used to the organic jam I’ve been buying. But that’s another story…