Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dangerously fudgy breakfast bars

Danger, Will Robinson! These are actually sort of good for you!

My friend Asteroidae and I have a weekly appointment on Thursdays, to make a batch of breakfast bars for her to have on hand in the mornings. We started this because she has the same problem I used to have – it's nigh impossible to jump start in the morning, and we've thus both been too rushed to eat a nutritious breakfast. This way, when she's running behind (and, like me, that's fairly often) she will be able to reach into the refrigerator and grab a portable handful of breakfast. Plus, she gets to learn more cooking and baking techniques. Double-plus, we have an excuse to enjoy each other's company.

And, as further benefit, her family gets to share in the tasty treasures, I get to play in the kitchen without having consequences to my girth, and…well, the list goes on.

Since this week was interrupted by Halloween, though, and Asteroidae spent the afternoon with her family, carving pumpkins and putting finishing touches on their decorations, I was left to my own devices. Sigh.

Rather than mope around, I decided I'd go ahead and work up another pile of stuff I don't need, so that when Asteroidae and her brother arrived, I'd have a few bags of tasty treats for them, anyway.

A week ago, we made a batch of hazelnut-fudge breakfast bars, using the popular spread and a recipe I found online. After I'd bragged about the treats to my friends on social networks, one of them commented that her kids couldn't have hazelnuts. Was there a variation I could find?

Unfortunately, the hazelnut spread has its own particular flavor and texture, so it's pretty difficult to replace its fudgy richness. Fortunately, I had recently discovered jars of Nutkao Gran Cremeria spread in the imported foods section of my favorite nearby Big Lots store.

If you have severe allergies, this is still not the option you need, as the label clearly indicates Nutkao manufactures its dark chocolate spread in the same facilities, with the same equipment with which hazelnuts, soy, and other nuts are processed. But if you're looking for a nice non-nut spread for this recipe or others, this Italian company has a very tasty, dangerously chocolatey option... and it makes awesome breakfast bars!

Dangerously Fudgy Breakfast Bars


4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup butter (2 sticks) (You can substitute coconut oil, but it will change the flavor, obviously)
1 cup milk or substitute (I used plain soy)

1 jar (350 grams) Nutkao Gran Cremeria Dark Chocolate Spread,* warmed to soften
5 cups quick oats (not instant)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cups dried cherries or cranberries (optional)
2 Tablespoons powdered vanilla


Grease and line with parchment one 8x14x2" roasting/baking pan.

In a 3 quart (or larger) saucepan or stockpot, mix sugar, cocoa, and soymilk. On medium-high heat, stir constantly until the butter is melted and the mixture comes to full, rolling boil. Allow to boil 1 minute without stirring, then remove from heat.

Stir in Nutkao Chocolate Spread until completely blended, then add the oats, pecans, cherries, and vanilla. Stir until well-mixed. Pour into baking pan, spread evenly, allow to cool in refrigerator or freezer.

*I found this imported product at a Big Lots store in my neck of the woods, but it may not be available in every region. It is much thicker and more fudgy than most chocolate toppings, but, if you wish, you may choose to substitute a popular hazelnut/chocolate spread. However, if you do, it will not be as darkly chocolatey, and its decadence may be diminished. Okay, the hazelnut (or other nut spread) recipe, since it is less darkly delicious, will probably be snitched by kids more, so if you're a dark chocolate fanatic & want to protect your shares, avoid making that change…

Not designed to be shared.

Note: under normal circumstances, one makes these treats using quick oats. I had some rolled oats on hand, but they were of the sort which take a little longer to turn to mush in the mornings. They make the bars denser, chewier, and hold a slightly nuttier flavor than the quick oats do, if you like that sort of thing.