Saturday, September 3, 2011

Subversive granola and a trip out of town

I was still antsy last night after all that fried deliciousness, so thought I should even it out by making some healthy (healthy-ish) granola bars. But the decadence switch had been flipped on in my brain, and the wholesome granola quickly became subversive granola. It started as an effort to make snacks for the school year -- class is finally beginning this Thursday, after Irene scrambled the schedule -- and I learned the hard way last year that an 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. class necessitates snacks. Awesome snacks. Or else you realize at 9 p.m. that your batteries are at 30 percent and your discussion contributions are steeply dropping in quality.

Last night's granola bars started out as a take on Ina Garten's, with more nuts, more salt and different, and less, dried fruit. But shortly before midnight, it struck me that I had more chocolate than I would need on our trip to the Catskills, so why not just melt the remainder and spread it on top? That's what I did, and subversive granola was born.

(I mean subversive granola in the sense that it is no longer healthy; I just did a Google search for "Subversive Granola," to make sure I wasn't stealing the name of someone's granola business or something -- it doesn't look like I am -- and it seems that phrase only turns up anti-left propaganda. Is granola still considered a food of the ultra liberal? I thought everybody ate granola.)

The extra nuts make this bar hearty and sustaining; the honey and chocolate are punctuated by the crunch of Maldon salt. Besides how good the bars taste, they are also so enjoyable to make: the smell of warm honey and roasting hazelnuts is still on the air this morning.

After finishing the bars, I headed to bed and read a few pages in a biography of Proust for school. And this rolling pin is packed, balls of dough are ready and refrigerated, bottles of wine are stowed in the back seat of the car. All I need to now is another cup of coffee and a second granola bar, and I'm off!

Subversive Granola Bars 
Adapted from Ina Garten's Handmade Granola Bars

2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup whole blanched almonds
1 cup whole hazelnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup dried pears, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Several big pinches of Maldon salt
About half a pound of semisweet chocolate

1. Heat the oven to 350 degree, butter a large baking dish and line it with parchment. 

2. Place oatmeal, nuts and coconut on a baking sheet. Toast for about 15 minutes. If your wheat germ is untoasted, as Bob's Red Mill is, sprinkle it on a separate baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until it's golden. Careful with this one -- it can go fast. Combine oatmeal, wheat germ, nuts and coconut in a bowl. Mix in the dried pears. 

3. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees. 

4. Combine butter, honey, sugar and vanilla in a pan, bring to a boil. Pour over the toasted ingredients and mix well. Add a few pinches of Maldon and mix again. Pour into the prepared pan, and use a damp spatula to press it into shape. It's hot, so if you use your fingers, be careful! 

5. Bake for half an hour, or until it's toasted to your tastes. Let cool for 3 hours or so, or until it's firm and holds together. 

6. Melt the chocolate and pour over the granola. Let the chocolate set, then cut into bars. 

7. Snacks! 

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