Lake Isle Press

Morning Maple Bars

Crisp-chewy, scented with maple, and stuffed with dried fruit and grains, there is so much to love about these bars.

Morning Maple Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup dried fruit (e.g., blueberries, cherries, raisins)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk or plain nondairy milk
  • 1/2 cup multigrain hot cereal
  • 1 cup natural, unsweetened nut or seed butter (e.g., almond, cashew, or sunflower)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple extract (optional)

Directions

1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Spread the oats and pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, shaking halfway through, until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Place the dried fruit in a food processor and process until finely chopped (but not a paste). Transfer to the bowl with the oats mixture.
5. Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in the cereal and remove from the heat; let stand for 2 minutes. Add the nut or seed butter, maple syrup, and salt. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat for 7 minutes; remove from the heat and stir in maple extract, if using.
6. Immediately add the cereal mixture to the oats mixture, mixing with a spatula until coated.
7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap (coated with nonstick cooking spray) atop the bar mixture and use it to spread, flatten, and very firmly compact the mixture evenly in the pan. Cool completely and let stand at least 2 hours until firm.
8. Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 bars.

Bar Tips
Although peanut butter works perfectly well in this recipe, it can overwhelm the flavor of the maple syrup. For a more pronounced maple flavor, opt for a milder-flavored nut or seed butter such as almond, sunflower seed, or cashew.
Toasting the oats and pecans adds tremendous flavor, but if you are in a hurry, you can skip this step.

Bar Keeping
Tightly wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap.
ROOM TEMP: 3 days
refrigerator: 1 week
FREEZER: 3 months in airtight container; thaw 1 hour

Bar Variations:
Honey, Get Going! Apricot Bars
Use an equal amount of honey in place of the maple syrup, an equal amount of whole almonds, chopped, in place of the pecans, and an equal amount of vanilla extract in place of the maple extract. Use chopped dried apricots for the dried fruit

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