Vegan Fruit and Seed Bars

I recently received a copy of The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book: More Than 375 Delectable Cookie Recipes That Begin with a Box of Cake Mix to peruse and going over the book I found a couple of vegan friendly recipes. The newly released book is a second edition, originally from 2005, but now with over 200 more recipes added. And it is a big book of recipes – no photos but plenty of great sounding recipes. I don’t normally have cake mixes on hand but I can see the point – it is an easy no fuss way to have great desserts in under an hour.

But I did have one quibble. Which was my fault. As I mentioned I don’t usually buy cake mixes. The only ones I rarely pick up are Trader Joe’s ones that have nothing artificial added (or worse partially hydrogenated oils). But to get a mix I have to drive a bit and I wasn’t up to it. So I used a mix from the local grocery store. There are vegan friendly cake mixes from the big companies (although if one has issues with sugar being vegan it isn’t worth one’s time). But unless you can get a pricier “natural” mix (think $3-5) you will get a crap mix with a lot of bad stuff – think modified food starch, polyglycerol, artificial flavors and a lot of stabilizers. Many brands even add fake coloring and soy or corn products as well.

That is what $1 or so buys you. So to put it this way – your finished product will only be as good as the cake mix you buy. Lesson learned. Don’t be lazy ;-) While the finished bars smelled wonderful I could taste all the crap in the cake mix. Sigh. So in the end I tossed the bars, I just had a very metallic taste in my mouth (most likely from the baking powder in the mix which contained aluminum).

So please don’t take what I said above as a negative against the book! It is a solid cookbook. Just buy the all-natural cake mixes when you find them on sale!

Vegan Fruit and Seed Bars (from page 228)

Ingredients:

  • 18.25 ounce package white cake mix (look for a vegan ingredient list if desired, for best results use a natural mix)
    ½ cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 (or 10 Tbsp) melted vegan margarine (or butter for non-vegan)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used ½ raisins, ½ dried cranberries)
  • 1 cup roasted sunflower seeds (naturally roasted, no MSG or bad oils added)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 9×13″ glass baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk the cake mix, oats, cinnamon and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  In a medium mixing bowl whisk the melted margarine, applesauce and molasses together, add to the dry, stirring until just mixed. Add in the fruit and seeds, stir to combine.

Spread the dough into the pan evenly.

Bake for …. well …. the book said 18 to 23 minutes. Mine took 45 minutes! Was it the cake mix? I think so. It was one of those “premium moist” types. Reading the back of the box the bake time for the pan I was using was 40 to 45 minutes, so not a shocker. Needless to say I would start checking at 20 minutes. A toothpick should come out of the middle with moist crumbs but not be wet.

Let cool and then cut into bars.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book for potential review.

Chocolate, Cranberry and Oat Bars

This was a regular recipe converted to vegan. At first I wasn’t so sure about the bars. For one it was so hot here that the bars were gooey even when baked (the chocolate chips couldn’t get hard!) and crumbled badly. I ended up refrigerating the bars and the next day tried them again and they were great tasting suddenly. They still crumbled like crazy but the taste was very mellow and the chocolate wasn’t oozing ;-)

Chocolate, Cranberry and Oat Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp flax-seed meal + 6 Tbsp water
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup Earth Balance buttery stick (12 Tbsp)
  • 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (heaping or 4 ounces weighed)
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9×13″ glass baking dish with spray.

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small glass mixing bowl, put in the microwave for 30 seconds on high, let sit on the counter.

Whisk the flax-seed meal and water together in a small bowl, set aside.

Stir the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium mixing bowl, set aside.

In a stand mixer beat the buttery stick until light, add in the sugar and beat to combine. Add in the flax-seed mixture and beat in.

With the mixer on low add in the dry ingredients, beat in and then add the cranberries and orange juice, then the chocolate chips and pecans.

Knock out the batter into the prepared pan, smooth out.

Bake for 25 to 40 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after 25, until it is golden brown, the top is set and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on the counter and then store in the refrigerator.

~Sarah

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I saw this recipe for Snickerdoodle Blondies up on RecipeZarr last night – and wow! They are fabulous! Cut them up and stashed most in the freezer for lunches, Ford will love that.

~sarah

Cereal Bars

Cereal Bars
Ingredients:

3/4 cup corn syrup (or honey)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
5 cups cereal (flakes work well)
1/2 cup raisins or other small dried fruit (I preferred dried cranberries)
Directions:

Put corn syrup and brown sugar in large saucepan, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Add cereal and fruit and stir until well coated. (A silicone spatula works well)
Press mixture into a buttered or sprayed 13×9 pan for thin bars, a 8×8 pan for thick bars. Press with spatula so packed in.
Cut when cool into bars.
Fair warning: while utterly addicting, don’t eat if you have funky dental work! They are sticky goodness.

~Sarah

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