Today, my friend Lauren is taking the California bar exam. You go girl. Get it. And since I can’t be there to cheer you in person:
And I packed up a little bit Meryl’s enthusiasm over the weekend and shipped it express across the country, from my heart to Lauren’s. And by “enthusiasm” I mean homemade chewy bars, of course. See, Lauren lives in California, which is not that far from the Rocky Mountains. So when I spied a Rocky Mountain trail mix at the grocery store last week, I knew I wanted to use it to make something for her for her big day(s). (Also, I either did or didn’t think at the time that the Rocky Mountains are in California because, hey, I’m not great at geography. In my defense, the only California-mountain-related product at the store is probably Sierra Nevada beer, and no one wants a beer-flavored granola bar.)
This Rocky Mountain trail mix has all the good stuff — almonds, cashews, pepitas, dried cherries and chocolate chips. Mixed up with some oats, a little almond butter (Lauren hates peanut butter, which I totally remembered but also had to text her boyfriend to confirm (thanks Adam!)), some sweetener, and a couple of extra almonds, just for good measure, and you’ve got a fantastic little granola bar.
Also, I owe a shoutout to my mom and sister, who were the inspiration for these bars. When I took the bar exam, I was a total stress mess. (Mascara ran down my cheeks for at least 40% of that summer. #adorable) But just before the exam, I got a package in the mail from my mom and sister, who had made me homemade chocolate and peanut butter power bars. I ate most of them in the week leading up to the test, when I was totally sick of both studying and takeout, but I saved a few for the actual exam days. In the afternoon, when I was losing steam and bored of being in an airplane hangar buzzing with the sound of 3,000 test-takers frantically typing essays about commercial paper, I would unwrap a little nugget of deliciousness and savor a few bites of one of those bars. They were a perfect pick-me-up.
So now I’m paying it forward! Assuming these little guys survived their cross-country trip, they will be a filling and delicious treat for Lauren. Chewy and crunchy and sweet and nutty — hopefully just what she’ll want after a long day of testing! Good luck, Lauren!!
- 2 c. rolled oats (not instant)
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. ground cinnamon
- ¼ t. ground nutmeg
- 2½ cups add-ins* (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and/or chocolate)
- ⅓ c. almond or other nut butter
- ¼ c. agave syrup or honey
- ¼ c. vegetable or olive oil
- 1 T. water
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a food processor, grind ⅓ cup of the oats until finely ground.
- In a large bowl, stir together ground oats, remaining whole oats, sugar, salt, spices, and add-ins.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond butter, agave syrup, oil and water.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well combined. Evenly press the mixture into the lined cake pan, concentrating on the edges and corners to make sure they are firmly packed.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the pan on a drying rack, then remove from the pan using the parchment paper lining. Allow to cool completely before cutting.