Nutty cereal bars

I've been playing around with another snack bar recipe.  Somewhat surprisingly, the peanut butter granola bars were a fair hit with our little one and I wanted to try another variation to mix things up a little.  The result is this cereal bar made of puffed cereal, almonds, and sesame seeds. 
I think I might've pushed my luck a little too far with the nuts - the little guy was not a fan of these (it didn't help that he was in no mood to try something new when I presented them).  On the whole, I liked these - they're slightly chewy yet crunchy (from all those nuts) and just a tad sweet from some honey.  They do tend to crumble so it's a bit messy.  It helps to keep it in the fridge and the best part is you can store it there for about 3 weeks.

The original recipe uses sliced almonds and cashews and in retrospect, it would've been a better idea to mix the nuts as opposed to going with all almonds like I did.  I was trying to play it safe because while I like cashews, they can be a little too rich...plus, I know the little guy would not go for cashews at all.  So long story short, there's a lot of almonds in every bite.  I'm ok with that as a person who loves almonds but a little of this goes a long way. 

I adapted this recipe from Gourmet.  Start by toasting 1 1/2 cups of sliced almonds and 1/3 cup of sesame seeds.  Then, set it aside to cool.
The original recipe uses 1 cup of roasted salted cashews.  I choose roasted salted almonds instead.  Roughly chop the nuts you choose to use and set that aside.

Heat some honey, brown sugar, and bit of oil in a small saucepan until smooth and melted.
You'll need 3 cups of plain rice cereal.  The plain cereal gives a nice subtle bite in the background of these bars.  If I were to make this again, I'd trit with 3 1/2 cups of cereal and 1/2 cup less nuts.  Place the plain cereal in a big bowl and add the roasted almond slices and sesame seeds, along with the chopped almonds.
In addition to the honey mixture we use as sweetener and binder, you also need to prepare 2 egg whites.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and beat the whites with a fork until it becomes frothy.

First add the honey mixture and mix it in...
Then stir in the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into a 9-inch square pan that's been sprayed with oil and covered with parchment.  Lightly spray the parchment paper also.  Pack the mixture firmly and evenly throughout the pan. 
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 35 minutes until golden brown.  Let it cool completely for 1-2 hours.  It helps to also refrigerate the pan for about 30 minutes or so to make cutting a little easier (they are crumbly, particularly in the center). 

Slice into whatever size you like (a little goes a long way) and store the bars in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.  I love that these bars can hang out in the refrigerator for a while so you can grab a little when hunger strikes.


Recipe:

Nutty Cereal Bars
Adapted from Gourmet

- Makes one 9" square pan of bars -

1 1/2 cups (4 1/2 oz.) sliced almonds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups plain crisp rice cereal
1 cup (4 oz.) roasted salted almonds*, coarsely chopped
2 large egg whites

* Original recipe uses roasted salted cashews

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toast sliced almonds in a sheet pan until light brown, about 6-7 minutes.  Stir in the sesame seeds and bake for another 3-4 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Prepare a 9-inch square baking pan by spraying lightly with cooking spray.  Line the bottom and 2 sides of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, allowing for about 2-3 inches of overhang on either side.  Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray.

Set oven to 325 degrees. 

Heat honey, brown sugar, and oil in a small saucepan until melted and smooth.  Stir rice cereal, chopped roasted almonds, and the sliced almonds and sesame seeds in a large bowl.

Using a fork, beat the egg whites with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt until whites are frothy.  Stir the honey mixture into the cereal mix, then add the egg whites, gently mixing it evenly together.

Spread the mixture into the baking pan, pressing to make sure it's evenly distributed.  Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool completely for 1-2 hours.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before slicing.  Keep bars, wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.




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