I was not overly excited to make Granola Energy Bars for the very reason that they appealed to other people. I get the whole "overdid it in December, start fresh in January" thing, and I mostly agree, but a granola bar would still be the last thing I would pick when told to choose from a book of indulgences. And this is why I suck at diets.
That said, these granola bars were simple to make, and were exponentially better than store-bought. I've never tried to make granola bars before, and I loved being able to select my own add-ins. I used dried apricots, cherries, craisins, and dates, and also roasted some pecans, pine nuts, and cashews to round out my slivered almonds. I used light corn syrup instead of buying a jar of brown rice syrup, because I am officially in use-up-the-pantry mode. We'll move to our next duty station (Norfolk, VA) next summer, so we need to start eating through our stored food. Dorie says that brown rice syrup does the best job of binding the nuts and the oats, but the corn syrup worked just fine.
|Breakfast is served. Don't mind the crumbs.|
My husband brought half the batch to a breakfast potluck at work. He didn't bring any home, and he did report that his boss, who recently had a baby and is watching what she eats, came to his office to say that it was the best granola bar she'd ever had. Yay!
My husband's input on the bars: "It may just be a granola bar, but it's a damn good granola bar." I think that basically sums it up.
Now, to catch up on the two recipes I failed to post about.
A few weeks ago, some Jewish friends invited us over for a Hanukkah party. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make The Rugelach That Won Over France without having to eat the entire batch. I was a bit intimidated by all the steps, and by early reports from other participants indicating that they were having trouble cutting the dough. Armed with the knowledge that I didn't want the dough to get too stiff, I only chilled the completed logs for about a half an hour before I sliced and baked them. My biggest problem was that I didn't roll the logs tightly enough, so a lot of the filling fell out when I sliced them. They turned out okay, though. I didn't love the dried-fruit filling. I might try this again with a raspberry jam filling. They vanished quickly at the party, and my friends gave them their "Jewish stamp of approval." Ha!
We hosted Christmas dinner for a group of our dearest friends here in Napoli. The Gingerbread Buche de Noel was a most impressive way to end an excellent dinner. This was such a time-consuming project that I doubt I'll ever make it again, but I'm happy that I did it this one time. Everyone seemed to love it. For my part, I loved the cake itself and the marshmallow frosting. I think I made a mistake by using salted butter in the filling. No one but me thought so, but I thought the filling tasted salty. It balanced out when every component was on the fork, but when I only got cake and filling, I didn't like it. Again, I think the problem was that I used salted butter, so it's probably my own fault.
I was too busy celebrating to take a picture of the cake. You'll just have to take my word for it.