Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Home! It is a good place to be. Home baking — even better. Especially during cookie season! Just four days out of the house over Thanksgiving break refilled my creative energy… if only I had time to cook every idea that comes to mind!

We visited Roy, New Mexico for Thanksgiving, so instead of your traditional holiday dinner we cooked with a camp stove among friends (including some camping recipes that I’m definitely going to share here come summer: black bean and kale skillet enchiladas, an iteration of these chorizo and egg breakfast tacos, and plenty of cocoa). Not your traditional holiday, but it was perfect for me. A way to unplug, relax, and enjoy the beautiful dessert!

Besides, I have been craving a trip to New Mexico since last Christmas when I tried to convince Oliver to go on a last minute road trip to Santa Fe (instead we spent it at home doing not much of anything).

In anticipation of some upcoming trips, I had made these bars ahead of time, and they were the perfect mid-day snack while we were out climbing, and delicious enough to be a treat around the campfire.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs
Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

After baking them, I sliced them up and kept them in the freezer, and then packed them into the cooler with the rest of our supplies.

Chocolate and peanut butter is a classic (the best!!) so when I went to make something akin to a snacking bar but more luxurious, it felt like the perfect fit. Something hearty and filling for long days outside, but something that still tastes basically like dessert (happy sweet tooth = happy me).

Adding in hemp hearts and cacao nibs also walks this line of snack gone dessert… hemp hearts make me think granola bar, cacao nibs feel more like a treat. What you get is a treat you feel good about — and a snack for those moments when you really want a treat (and I always want my snacks to feel like treats).

These bars also are a GREAT better-for-you option for holiday cookies. Like blondie meets oatmeal cookie meets peanut butter cup with more good stuff packed in. Which is why I’m sharing it with you now!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Published November 29, 2018 by
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Serves: 12   |    Active Time: 1 hour



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup smooth, unsalted peanut butter (stirred and at room temperature)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup honey (you can also try maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of flake sea salt for topping
  • 1 cup semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9x9 glass baking dish with parchment paper.
    2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, egg, honey and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add salt, oats, almond flour, peanuts, hemp hearts, and cacao nibs and fold to create a thick, sticky, crumbly batter.
    3. Press mixture into prepared baking dish in an even layer, and bake in middle rack of oven for 15 minutes.
    4. Allow base to cool completely before adding chocolate topping. While base cools, melt chocolate and coconut oil by placing bowl in a microwave-safe bowl, and heating at 30-second intervals, stirring between each round. (You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler).
    5. Spread chocolate in an even layer over oat base. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts and 1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt. Allow chocolate to set completely.
    6. Once chocolate is set, lift the bars from the dish (pull out the parchment paper with the bars to get them out more easily) and slice into 12 equal pieces.
    7. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.

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    Vanilla Chai Spice Dried Pears

    Vanilla Chai Spice Dried Pears

    A big box showed up in our dining room in mid-September with my name on the shipping label. 

    It was my birthday but I still scratched my head. This September, I had been so stressed that I mostly avoided the topic of my birthday or gifts with anyone that asked— I certainly didn’t need anything, but I also just couldn’t find a minute to think about it clearly.

    I had ordered nothing from Amazon myself (though in the same minute that thought entered my mind I also started doubting myself— had I hit “buy now” on that Dehydrator I had been eyeing instead of “add to cart?”). 

    When I got halfway through opening the box with a paring knife and found it was a Dehydrator, I doubted myself even further. So much so, that I stopped right there and pulled out my phone to check my Amazon order history.

    Vanilla Chai Spice Dried Pears

    Relief washed over me when I saw I had placed no orders in the last month, but I still had a mystery on my hands. I finished unpacking the appliance before drilling Oliver on who had bought it. It probably took me four tries to get it right, but when I did land on my dad it all made sense. I had given him a non-answer when he had asked about my birthday in general, so he had asked Oliver.

    This new dehydrator was about five times nicer than any of the ones I was planning to buy myself! Quieter, easy to use, and has a timer (key, if you ask me!). It’s the Excalibur 5-Tray Dehydrator (affiliate link!). (THANKS DAD!)

    So far, my absolute favorite thing to dehydrate has been pears.

    This recipe is inspired by one I found in Dried and True (affiliate link), a cookbook that takes dehydrating to the next level, moving it from boring old-fashioned recipes to new, inventive, and tantalizing flavors. I made the Dried Vanilla Pears from the book twice before venturing out on my own.

    Vanilla Chai Spice Dried Pears

    As soon as our first fall day hit, I immediately was dreaming about warmer flavors, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Chai. And that’s how these pears came to be — a day dream, like most of my recipes 😉

    In real life, each slice of pear was such a treat, I savored every one. We took them hiking, ate them around the house, and packed them in our bags for outings around town. I always looked forward to those delicious pears. I thought, for about 5 seconds, about sharing them with a few coworkers but greed got the best of me and I kept it to myself. Sharing the recipe is almost as good, right?!

    This recipe is good for dehydrating-pros or a newbies like me. Make it while the pears are at their peak! I used Starkrimson Pears one round and Colorado Heirloom Pears another; Bartlette and D’Anjou would also be great.

    Vanilla Chai Spice Dried Pears

    Vanilla Chai Spice Dried Pears

    Published October 16, 2018 by
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    Yield: 20 slices   |    Active Time: 8-9 hours



    Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe pears Starkrimson
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 slices of fresh ginger - each about the size of a nickel
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch of ground cloves

  • Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients but the pears in a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
    2. Wash pears and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Remove seeds and cut of stems as you go.
    3. Work with 3-4 pear slices at once: submerge pears in syrup on the stove, simmering slices for 10 minutes. Pears should be softened through but should not fall apart easily.
    4. Use a slotted spoon to remove slices from syrup and set on a plate to cool for several minutes.
    5. When all of the pears are done, spread them out on the wracks of your dehydrator (I use this one - affiliate link!), with at least 1/4-inch of space between each slice.
    6. Place wrack in dehydrator and set to 135°F for 8-10 hours, until pears are dried but still chewy.

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    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    There are too many good recipes to share with you all this month! I usually only post two recipes a week, but this month I just couldn't get everything to fit into that schedule. My options were to ditch a recipe or publish an extra, and well, the answer was clear once we had a bite of this butternut squash pie with pecan crumble crust. 

    My good friend had a butternut squash pie making craze last year, and while he seems to now be over that caramelly, cinnamon-y flavor, I'm still stuck on it. 

    What I needed though, to really make the ultimate butternut squash pie, was an alternate crust. I've always been partial to graham cracker crusts (the kind you find on many cheesecakes) but wanted to keep this recipe from-scratch and grain-free.

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Pondering this crust dilemma brought me to pecans. It wasn't sure pecans would work in place of graham crackers, but I had a hunch. I was nervous about it, putting the pie into the oven. A few friends stopped by and I explained to them it was just an experiment and could go terribly wrong. 

    Out of the oven it came and I was, even then, a little nervous. I took pictures, serving everyone else, and then grabbed the last piece for myself, topping it with an oversized dollop of whipped cream.

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    It was my butternut-pie-making-friend who said it first: a crust made of pecans is like a butternut pie inside of a pecan pie. A custardy filling nestled inside a crunchy, sweet, nutty shell. 

    He was right: it was a butternut squash pie inside of a pecan pie. The butter and sugar caramelized in the oven while the pecans toasted, making something so delicious it stole the show, even from the pie filling itself. 

    In this pie, crust is no longer just a vehicle for transporting filling. It's a part of the experience, as must as every other ingredient. 

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Published December 15, 2017 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes



    Ingredients:


      For the crust:
    • 2 cups pecans 
    • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
    • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

    • For the filling:
    • 10 ounces frozen cubed butternut squash, thawed
    • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
    • 1/4 cup wildflower honey
    • 2/3 cup half-and-half 
    • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tablespoon butter, melted 
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

    • To serve:
    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease an 9-inch ceramic or glass pie pan .
    2. Put pecans in a food processor and pulse to grind them into a fine crumb. Scrape sides frequently to ensure even chopping. Few larger chunks should remain (several are ok but for the most part you are looking for an even, fine crumb). Scrape pecan crumbs into a bowl, and add sugar and melted butter. Use a spatula to stir until everything is combined and crumb should stick together when squeezed between two fingers. Now, press crumb mixture into prepared pie pan, working it up the sides and into an even layer along the bottom to form a crust. Tip: use the flat bottom of a glass to make a smooth bottom. Make sure there are no gaps or cracks, and then set aside.
    3. In a blender, combine: thawed butternut squash, sugar, honey, half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Puree until completely smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Then, allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes so any air bubbles have time to float to the top.
    4. Pour butternut mixture into prepared pie shell, filling it until almost—but not quite- full (shoot for 90-95% full). Place in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until custard filling jiggles slightly in the middle but not at the edges. Turn heat off, and allow pie to cook in oven with the door open for 10-15 minutes. This super slow cooling method will prevent the custard filling from cracking.
    5. While the pie cools, make the whipped cream. Add heavy cream to a bowl and whip with an electric mixture until it beings to hold peaks. Add vanilla, and beat 30 more seconds.
    6. Serve pie with dollops of whipped cream (ice cream would be good as well!).

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