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Homemade Kind Bars

Middle Eastern and European sweets made from nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a sweet syrup binding—such as gozinaki in Georgia and pasteli in Greece—have been around for centuries. Here, the essential idea finds new life as an uncomplicated, nourishing energy bar. Before you start making plans to substitute your favorite brand of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for the specified syrups, hear me out: It will not work. Instead of a stack of bars, you will have a pile of crumbles. I could go into a lengthy chemical discussion about the structure and properties of various sugars, but I won’t (which will simultaneously disappoint my retired chemist father and please my editor). Just trust me on this one and I know you will be thrilled with your results.–Camilla V. Saulsbury

LC Friend Bars Note

The author refers to these as “Friend Bars,” which we admit initially confounded us. But one of our recipe testers clarified the connection for us in a note he wrote after making the first of several batches. “You want lots of friends?” he said. “Make and share lots of these delicious bars, and you’ll soon have more friends than you can count.” That explains it. You can never have too many friends—or, apparently, too many homemade Kind Bars.

Homemade Kind Bars Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 35 M
  • Makes 10 bars

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped assorted raw or toasted nuts and/or seeds, (e.g., cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, pecans, almonds)
  • 1/3 cup crisp brown rice cereal (you can use an equal amount of other puffed or crisp grain cereals, such as puffed millet, quinoa, or amaranth, in place of the crisp rice cereal)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, apricots, berries, dates, figs, mangoes)
  • 1/3 cup organic light corn syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional)

Directions

  • 1. To make the Kind Bars, preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • 2. Stir together the nuts or seeds, cereal, and dried fruit in a large bowl. Add the syrup and salt (if using) to the nut mixture and stir until evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap (the plastic wrap needs to be coated with nonstick cooking spray) atop the bar mixture and use it to spread, flatten, and very firmly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Discard the paper or plastic.
  • 3. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until slightly browned at the edges but still somewhat soft at the center. Let cool 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.
  • 4. Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 10 bars. Let cool completely. Tightly wrap the Kind Bars individually in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 1 month (if frozen, let thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour prior to biting into it).

Homemade Kind Bar Variations

  • Apple Pecan Kind Bars
  • Use chopped dried apples for the fruit, pecans for the nuts, and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon along with the syrup.
  • Very Nutty Kind Bars
  • Omit the dried fruit and increase the total amount of nuts to 2 cups.
  • Seeds Kind Bars
  • Omit the dried fruit and use 2 cups raw toasted seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds) in place of the nuts.
  • Almond Apricot Kind Bars
  • Use chopped dried apricots for the fruit, 1 1/4 cups almonds for the nuts, and 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut. Add 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest or lemon zest along with the syrup.
  • Coconut Almond Kind Bars
  • Use unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut for the fruit and almonds for the nuts. Add 3/4 teaspoon almond extract along with the syrup.
  • Ginger Sesame Kind Bars
  • Use 1 cup almonds or cashews and 1/3 cup sesame seeds for the nuts and seeds and chopped dates for the fruit. Add 1 teaspoon ground ginger along with the syrup.
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