January 11, 2008

Ginger-Coconut Milk & Cereal Bars

14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup uncrystallized candied ginger
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 250. Oil one 11x7 baking dish OR one 8x8 dish and one standard loaf pan. In a saucepan, heat the condensed milk. Add all of the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly mix and evenly distribute all ingredients. Pour the mixture into the prepare pan(s) and flatten with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 65-70 minutes or until the mixture looks dry and is only slightly sticky to the touch, but not browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan. Use a spatula to remove the entire contents of the pan to a cutting board and then cut into bars. Store in an air tight container.

Yield: approximately 15 small bars

My thoughts:

Breakfast bars seem to be big business these days. I honestly am not a breakfast person (bar or not) but I like the idea of having something solid and homemade to tuck in my bag as I go about my day. I had debated making straight up granola bars but couldn't find a recipe I liked. Everything called for lots of butter, sugar, honey or corn syrup and just seemed too sweet, sticky and possibly oily. Not to mention unnecessarily complicated. Then I saw mentions of homemade milk and cereal bars that used sweetened condensed milk (mixed with honey, sugar etc) and commercial cereals (like Cherrios). I didn't quite see the need to add extra ingredients and we don't eat boxed cereal so I went for a simpler approach. And you know what? It totally worked. Strangely, using sweetened condensed milk not kept the bars intact, and lent the bars a slightly caramel flavor, but the resulting bars were not overly sweet. They also had a richness to them (and a vanilla flavor) that belied the simplicity of the ingredients. And if you make them over the weekend, they will last all week.