I love care packages. Thinking about a loved one opening a box of homemade goods warms my heart all the way through. It’s only when I have to put one together that anxiety overcomes the affection. True to nature, I’m always torn between the emotional aspect (what does this person really like?) and the practical issues (what will keep best in the mail?).
Following the advice of mail-order cookie blogs, I usually default to a sturdy, drier vegan option, like these trail mix cookies. On this particular occasion, though, I wanted to make something much more decadent and dazzling. I wanted to sweep birthday boy S off his feet, since he’s the kind of self-sacrificing, sincere, sweet human being who appreciates and deserves a rare indulgence. I started with a nod to S’s health-conscious nature — homemade oat crackers — and then doctored it up with five times the amount of dark chocolate, dried fruit, and nuts. From what I heard, the bars made it to their destination safely… but didn’t stand a chance once they did.
Oat bars with chocolate
Base recipe adapted from AllRecipes
Yields 2 bars
- 2 tablespoons rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon whole wheat flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1-1/4 teaspoons olive oil
- 6 ounces of dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup of dried fruit and nuts (I used coconut flakes, pepitas, almonds, cranberries and milk chocolate chips, though you can easily sub in a premade trail mix or combination of your choice)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Make oat flour: in a food processor, grind the rolled oats until you achieve a flour-like consistency.
- Stir together the dry ingredients. Add in the wet ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Spread onto a thin sheet (about 1/8″ thick) on parchment paper and slice into your desired shape.
- Bake in the oven until just barely brown, about 15 minutes. Watch the bars carefully, as they burn easily! Allow them to cool and slightly stiffen on the parchment paper, preferably set on a baking rack.
- While the bars are baking and cooling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
- Dip the bars into the chocolate mix, covering the bars completely (and thereby creating a good seal on them!). Alternately, you can keep the bars on parchment paper and simply drip the chocolate directly onto the bars.
- Sprinkle the toppings onto the bars, making sure that the fruit and nuts are well adhered to the chocolate. Layer with more melted chocolate. Alternate between adding the toppings and melted chocolate until you’re happy with the end product.