Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Healthy-ish Fruit Bars


Healthy-ISH.  They still have sugar, butter and flour but if I had to put them up against regular cookie bars in a healthy contest I think they'd win.  And here's a big bonus for me ... THEY'RE SOY FREE!!!  I can't eat the fruit and cereal bars because they're packed with the stuff.  I adapted the recipe from "Fruit Newtons" on applecrumbles.com.  My recipe will follow.

First I cut up about 16 ounces of fruit.  I have to say "about" because my scale went to sleep just before I was finished adding fruit to it.  This is 12 ounces of strawberries and 2 good sized dino egg pluots.  (Pluots are hybrids of plums and apricots.  There are many varieties, each with it's own specific flavor.  These are in my top 3 favorite fruits.)  All the fruit went into a pot with some sugar and water.  I let them sit for a few minutes and then the pluot skins slid right off.  Then I brought them up to a boil, turned off the heat and let them rest, covered, for an hour.

Next came the dough, which I started as soon as the fruit was set to rest, since it has to chill for an hour.  I made a couple of changes to the dough both for flavor and health.  Unless I'm cooking for vegans or someone who is very dairy intolerant I prefer to use real butter.  I'd rather have a more natural fat than something chemically contrived.  I know there are some alternatives out there that are natural and healthy but for now, I'll stick with butter.  I did snitch at the batter before I put it in the fridge and I really could have eaten the whole thing raw.
After the longest hour of fruit resting and smelling up my house with it's delicious aroma and dough sitting in my fridge taunting me it was time to move on to assembly.  I did preheat my oven 15 minutes before the hour was up.   I drained the water off the fruit and sent it for a quick twirl in the blender.  I don't have an immersion blender yet, but it's on my Christmas list.  I left a few little chunks in the fruit because I wanted to.  Haha, it felt like being defiant.

The dough needs to be rolled out, half at a time.  If there is a gene associated with being able to roll out dough and then move it gracefully, that gene is turned off in me.  I rolled out the bottom dough right on the parchment then dropped it into the dish and picked and mashed to make it fit better.  A little word on the parchment:  you just lift it out after your stuff has cooled.  No sticking to the dish, no extra fat to coat it, no mangling the first piece, nothing but nice clean cuts and pretty bottoms and sides!  I then spread the fruit over the bottom dough, rolled out the top dough .... and destroyed it.  Yep, I'm really that bad at moving rolled dough.  I pieced it together and decided to claim that I was going for this look because it gives it character, adds to the authenticity of the piece and all that good stuff.

Into the oven they went.  When the "baked goods" smell got super intense they had about 2 minutes left.  I let them cool almost all the way before I lifted out the parchment and chopped them into bars using my big kitchen knife.  The taste was great BUT check this out .... I made them yesterday.  I just had one to go with the writing of this blog and they are "next day better!"  They're moist and delicious and the fruit flavor is more intense now than it was last night.  Oh so good!

Healthy-ish Fruit Bars

  • 16 ounces of fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk (or soy milk, or rice milk, or milk milk)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (I used quick oats for their size, if you want bigger bits use regular oats)
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, crunched up
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  1. In a saucepan, combine fruit, 1/2 cup sugar and water.  If you are using fruit with peels let it sit a few minutes then removed peels.  Bring to a boil while stirring.  Removed from heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, beat the butter, 1 cup sugar, egg, milk and extracts.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, salt and baking powder.  Stir in oats and almonds.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until evenly combined.  Chill dough for 1 hour.
  3. 15 minutes before the hour is up, preheat oven to 350F.
  4. Strain water off fruit and give the fruit a quick twirl in the blender.
  5. Roll out half the dough on a floured surface (or right on parchment).  You might want to flour your rolling pin as well.  Put bottom layer of dough into a 9x13" baking dish.  Spread fruit onto bottom layer.  Roll out other half of dough and lay it gracefully and beautifully on top of fruit layer.  Or do it like I did.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool, at least most of the way, and then lift out parchment and slice into bars.
  8. Enjoy!
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