Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cranberry Pumpkin Energy Bars

Who else likes to have a nice cup of hot coffee while baking?? It excites me to have a warm cup of coffee and be busy baking in the kitchen. This is something I always look forward to. It is relaxing and I'm in my OWN zone! I've gotten off the caffeine kick and converted to black tea if I need a little push for the day or caffeine free teas, which right now I'm digging a vanilla honey chamomile. Well I wanted a coffee for my energy bar experiment. Starbucks was on the way home, and it was around 1pm. I figured I'd get a decaf for once. Just my luck they stop brewing it after 12 because it isn't popular enough, but I can wait 5 minutes for them to brew a batch. Why can't they just brew half of the decaf so they aren't wasting it as much? It is nice to have a variety for customers! I thought that was retarded, I just wanted to leave. The barista mentioned I could get an decaffeinated Americano. I said fine but I know Starbucks makes a real weak Americano, too much hot water. It was alright to say the least. At least it settled for coffee and baking time!

From my last energy bar making experiment Mark's Daily Apple I decided I wanted to experiment with my own bars and maybe find something I will actually enjoy. The primal energy bars from Mark's blog were okay. I wasn't happy with all the almond butter and coconut oil that went into them, I rather smear almond butter on my bars than have it mixed into something. So I adjusted the recipe and made my own. In honor of Fall's arrival I opened up a can of pumpkin and wanted that as my main ingredients for the bars and to replace the almond butter.
Cranberry Pumpkin Energy Bars (By Fallon, inspired by Mark's Daily Apple )  
1/2 cup raw sliced almonds
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/4 sweetened coconut (unsweetened works too)
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (homemade or canned)
3 oz. extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of ground clove (optional)
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 dried cranberries
Coconut to sprinkle on top

On a cookie sheet toast the nuts and the coconut in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. After 6 minutes check on them to make sure they haven't burned and shake them up. Keep checking on them till they are done because the coconut burns quickly!

Should look like this, the coconut is a light brown, 
and the nuts aren't burned.
When you smell them, then you know they are done!
While the nuts and coconut are toasting melt together the coconut oil and pumpkin. I used the microwave for about 30 seconds. Once melted add the vanilla extract, maple syrup, spices and salt.

Once the nuts are out of the oven, transfer them to a food processor until they become coarsely ground. Set the oven down to 325 to bake the bars.

Check out the steam!! This mixture taste soo good on its own!
Next add the egg to the cooled pumpkin/coconut oil mixture. Then add in the nut mixture and the almond floor. Make sure everything is mixed thoroughly. In a lightly greased (I used olive oil spray) 8 x 8 nonstick pan spread the bar mixture evenly. Next sprinkle on some coconut. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The bars should be cooked through and not wet. I checked this by lightly tapping my finger in the middle. The bars should be cooled completely before cutting into them. I put them in the fridge for a few hours and they held better. I also decided to keep them in the fridge so they would last longer.

The final result? Well I think I over did it on the SPICES! Very powerful and definitely don't need 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice. I thought they'd be similar in texture to the original bars I made, but they were much more moist because of the pumpkin. As for the coconut oil I think 3 oz is a bit overwhelming so next time I'll only use 2 oz of coconut oil. I like the coconut garnish on top, helps with the spiciness of the bars. The bars definitely have a nice texture with the processed nuts. It reminds me of the texture from a Larabar. I think these would taste better with a smear of almond butter on top ;) I haven't tried it yet but when I do I'll let you know. I still need more bar making practice but practice makes perfect right? I'll be interested if anyone else tries to create their own bars with pumpkin. If so let me know!!
On Friday I went to one of my friend's wedding from college. Her now husband is in the army and has been deployed in Kuwait. Long story short he decided while over there and her at home he wanted to get married on his 2 week leave that he is currently on. You know how many months she had to prepare for this wedding? haha.. 3 months! The poor girl turned into a bridezilla and was very stressed and confused. At least she had a great maid of honor to keep her in line! The end result was a great, simple wedding. It was small and she had everything she wanted within her budget. They married in a park and had their reception at Claim Jumper, their favorite restaurant. So of course I took pictures of food and cake! Claim Jumper has HUGE portions, I don't get it. Hence my massive, on steroids sweet potato pictured below. LOL. Someone ordered their turkey dinner it had a biscuit, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, vegetables, and gravy. I should of taken a picture of it, I couldn't believe the portion size of it. The girl who ordered it must of weighed 100 pounds, she took 2 bites and was stuffed. LOL

My good friend Z had the tri tip. Probably the best thing to order that night. 
She said the potatoes tasted weird, nothing like homemade!  

Hah, this was a Jamaican Jerk Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potato. I asked them where they got this sweet potato because it was on steroids for sure! LOL. Definitely was different, not my favorite. I requested the salsa and honey on the side. The salsa was awful (thank goodness I left it off) but HELLO I had a stick of butter in the middle. They could of warned me it had butter. Sneaky Sneaky! 

Isn't the cake cute?? It was simple and elegant.
This had 2 flavors: chocolate and vanilla cake.

I love how couples will personalize their cakes!

Chocolate cake with chocolate mouse and raspberry between.
Doesn't it look rich and delicious? It was more of a disapointment,
it wasn't rich, nor sweet. Rather bland. 

Vanilla cake with Bavarian cream and fresh berries. Now this was DELICIOUS! 
As much as I love chocolate, I think I'd like this kind of cake combo for 
my own wedding one day. Everyone always enjoys it too.

 Even though it was okay it was still consumed mostly by me. ;)
Notice the fondant left over. ICK I can't stand the
sweetness or the texture of it. 

I was pretty stuffed after dessert. Was well worth it though. :) 

I wish R and J the best for a happy and healthy marriage. She is now an official Army Wife!! WOOT WOOT!

Good night!


Pam said...

The pumpkin bars sound delicous! My kids would really gobble them up.

The wedding cake looked beautiful.

Amanda said...

Wow everything looks fabulous!