Granola fail (?)

I think it’s fitting that my first food post here will be a recipe-fail … or, is it? Anyway, cooking is all about messing up, starting over and improvising – if your recipes are coming out perfect each time, you’re not doing it right. I’ve been trying to be more creative with my cooking and baking, namely, coming up with my own ideas. Or rather, using someone else’s recipe and adapting it for my and my husband’s tastes and what we have in our pantry.

Take my latest … attempt. I had bookmarked this recipe for these “Energy Bites” quite some ago on Pinterest. The other night I was home alone for a few hours after dinner – Joel was at his community band rehearsal and I was enjoying a rare day off – so I decided to give them a try. I had been madly pinning a few hours earlier, giving me all this motivation to get in the kitchen. Specifically, I was stuck on the idea of making my own “snack food”, thereby reducing our dependence on processed and pricey snacks from the grocery store.

Now, a few months earlier than that, I had made a big batch of the Pioneer Woman’s granola bars. They were delicious but the recipe made SO many (note to self: Pioneer Woman recipes can feed an army), and most of the granola bars became hard as rocks after weeks in our fridge. However, after that experience, we did have some regular oatmeal in the pantry, as well as some wheat germ and molasses that wasn’t serving any purpose.

So I decided to give the Energy Bites a try, thinking they’d be a yummy breakfast snack when I was rushing off to open the store. Here’s the recipe as you can find them on Gimme Some Oven:

  • 1 cup of dry oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

You stir all the ingredients together, chill in the fridge for half an hour or so, then roll into balls or whatever size you want. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

My problem: The coconut flakes and chia seeds I did not have, but wasn’t worried about. What I also did not have was peanut butter – Joel and I had eaten the last of what we had earlier that week with our toast. Oops. Like I said, however, I did have molasses. Peanut butter, molasses – same thing, right?

Not really. On top of the chocolate chips, I also added butterscotch chips and some dried cranberries, but man oh man, was that molasses smell/taste strong. Not bad, necessarily – I do like the taste of molasses. But not that much. Plus, they weren’t rolling very well, though I think that was mainly due to the extra stuff I threw in.

I then decided that perhaps baking them in mini muffin cups would make a difference, and you know, I think it did! The molasses taste and smell was much more mellow after baking at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, with the flavors blending a little more.

Unfortunately, not having cooking spray, I just dumped this stick mixture into the muffin cups, meaning they were a tad difficult to pry out. The whole shebang had to be soaked overnight before I could wash it. And the ball concept just went to pieces, meaning what I was left with was some loosely-packed granola bits.

When it was all said and done, the granola still smells pretty strongly of molasses but the chocolate and butterscotch chips keep it sweet and tasty. I like to pick at it for breakfast and for a snack, though I still haven’t been able to get Joel to try it. I do think it would have been better sans molasses and with peanut butter, but you know, it’s good enough that I won’t throw it away. Verdict: minor success!

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