This is it, people. I’m getting down and dirty and a little bit crazy. Starting tomorrow, I’m going all Gwyneth Paltrow-level insanity and starting a 3-day juice cleanse. The fancy kind that some glossy, lithe delivery person brings to your house. I KNOW. But for now, there are these freaking great Chocolate-Slicked Toffee-Oat Tiles, which were kind of my last hurrah before embarking on a week of living like a deranged Hollywood starlet wannabe. My enthusiasm is palable, yes?
I’ll be real with you–it’s been a heck of a few weeks around here. In a nutshell, super far from puppies and rainbows. Lots of stress, tears and a few visits to doctors’ offices, just to give you a general idea. But I’m fine now, we’re all fine, and ready to move forward. Maybe someday I’ll gather up the cojones to tell you all about it. But for now, all of this has made me start thinking about my body and my health in a way that I’ve not put much emphasis on in quite some time.
Now, don’t you worry, I’m not going to be all going off the deep end and making you, like, sprouted hemp and carob cake or some other patchouli-stankin’ hippie thing. It’s more like I want to reset a bit, become a little more mindful of my body situation. Get more of the good stuff in than I have been in the past year, during which there’s been much sugar and flour and (call the food police!) corn syrup while testing recipes for my two upcoming books. I’m ready for a hard reset, here, people. I’m looking like Nell Carter right now, for reals. Well, in my brain I am. And so I’m ready for the big guns. Bring it, fancy juice people. I’m waiting for you.
So here’s what’s going to be happening around here for time being. First, I’m going to share the recipe for these totally addictive, snappy-yet-chewy granola bar/cookie hybrids. Then I’m going to finish this day out with all my very virtuous vegan eating to prepare for this cleanse thing I’m doing. Maybe I’ll document all the juiciness for you, just to see if I can still type and think while consuming no solid food. And maybe you’ll be interested in hearing about the process, much in the way that people like to stop and gape at car accidents. Doesn’t that sound like a BLAST?! Lie to me. Thanks.
Chocolate-Slicked Toffee-Oat Tiles
Makes about 16 tiles
This is a riff off on Kim Boyce’s granola bar recipe from her incredible book Good to the Grain. Except I deliciously loused up all the healthfulness with toffee bits and chocolate, ahem.
A few notes on ingredients: What you’re looking for here is dessicated coconut–the dry, unsweetened kind. If you can’t find it, or are one of those coconut-haters, I would swap it out for an equal amount of finely chopped sliced almonds. The toffee bits I used come in a bag by the chocolate chips, with Heath on the label. If you can’t find ‘em, I don’t see why you couldn’t just use finely chopped Heath bars and enjoy the extra hit of chocolate in the mix.
For the slick of chocolate, at first, it might seem there’s not enough to spread over the whole oat slab, but there will be. The idea is to have the thinnest layer of chocolate imaginable here, so thin you can almost start to see through it. Just keep spreading it along, and it will cover the whole thing eventually.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (see note)
1/2 cup toffee bits (see note)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), melted
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using the back of a knife or the edge of a spatula, lightly trace a 10-inch square onto the foil, being careful not to cut through the foil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oats, and stirring often, toast the oats in the butter until they’re lightly golden and smell nutty.Transfer the oats to a large mixing bowl. Wipe out the pot, and add the honey, brown sugar and salt, stirring to combine with a heatproof spatula. Place the pot over high heat and bring the mixture to a hard boil. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the syrup reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Add the coconut to the bowl with the oats and toss to combine. Add the syrup and stir to blend well. Add the toffee bits and stir until evenly mixed (a bowl scraper is great at really keeping the mixture moving and keeping it from clinging to the sides of the bowl). Turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet, aiming for the square template you’ve traced onto the foil. Spray your palms lightly with cooking spray and pat the mixture into thin, even layer to fill the square. Bake until golden and glossy all over, about 30 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back every 10 minutes during baking. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
When the oat slab is completely cooled, gently lift it off the foil and flip it over. Smooth the melted chocolate all over the slab in a thin, even layer–you want just a thin slick of chocolate here, so it may look like there won’t be enough chocolate to cover the surface, but as you spread it, there will be enough to thinly cover the 10-inch square. Let set at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into squares with a large, sharp knife.
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