Vegan Nutty Bars w/Raspberry Jam

I haven't written in a while but I have a great excuse! Last week, I drove to Nashville to spend some time with my friend Cate. We saw a grumpy Jack White at brunch, got caught in pouring rain, and laughed a lot. 

Then I left for Atlanta and prepared for my best friend's wedding. The wedding was held on the rooftop of my family's condo building and it was beautiful. 

I made macaron ice cream sandwiches (Thai ice tea, Chamomile and Chardonnay, and Maple Bourbon Pecan ice creams) and a cake. I also arranged the joint bachelor/bachelorette party, made a few of the appetizers, and wrote a speech. It was a frazzled and wonderful week. 
She married the most romantic Parisian and it was so much fun to hang out with a bunch of French, Chinese, and Indian people mixed together. We couldn't understand each other but that only made things more hilarious and touching. 

French boys who don't realize they are dressed as hipsters
I made my first 3-tiered wedding cake and it wasn't as bad as I thought. It was also finished extraordinarily fast. The bottom tier was salty caramel, the middle was mint chocolate and the top was black tea. The whole thing was spray painted gold and then we spent hours placing the pearls. She meant to have a cat and a dog to represent each of them, but the dog topper was "too ugly" so they left just a cat on there, which is fitting because they are both obsessed with cats. And, of course, we decided to display it with the cat butt out.

It was a gorgeous and intimate wedding with the sweetest vows and some very funny moments. 
Now, most of my friends have left and I'm here in Atlanta until the end of August, after which I go to Boston, New York, and Baltimore/DC with Joe. 

Since coming home, I've made these nutty bars three times already
My grandmother has diabetes but loves sweets, so I thought she'd enjoy these. Although I made these for her and my mother, my niece and nephew loved them even more. It's easy to let kids help because you literally just stir the ingredients in a bowl.

Watching the bars in the oven
This is probably one of the healthiest recipes you’ll ever see me write. 
I’m not a fan of granola, but I suppose this comes quite close to it...
Whisk Bakeshop serves a popular gluten-free thumbprint cookie similar to this recipe. The cookie seemed so similar to granola that I never bothered to taste it until Kaylen (bestie and owner) gave me a bite...

I was hooked. It was nutty around the edges, and the center held the best-tasting raspberry jam that nicely complemented the rest of the cookie. Even more impressive, it was only sweetened with maple syrup and was both vegan and gluten-free.

I decided to make my own adaptation in bar form – mostly out of laziness and convenience. I added pecan flour to vary the nut flavors a bit, but I didn’t bother making it gluten-free. Instead, I used white whole-wheat flour and included oats. I chose raspberry, but you can make this with any jam of your choice. What's yo jam?

I’ve made these probably four times since I discovered the recipe, and they’re scrumptious. I store them in my cookie jar and snack on them almost daily. It might be my gateway drug to granola...

They’re a great alternative to feed a sweet, sugar craving if you need a break from that sort of thing. Not that you would.

Nutty Bars
Adapted from a Whole Foods recipe
Makes one 8x8 inch square pan 

1/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup pecan flour (Replace with almond flour or another finely ground nut, if desired.)
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup white or whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup oats
½ cup coconut oil (Canola or grapeseed oil also work)
½ cup maple syrup (Grade B is best)
¼ tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-by-8-inch pan well.
In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the jam until well combined. Reserve 1/3 cup of batter.
Pour the remaining batter into the pan, spreading to the edges. Spoon the jam over the top of the batter, evenly covering it. Top with the remaining batter, smoothing it evenly over the jam.
Bake for 28 to 30 minutes until firm around the edges and golden brown (The top should be dry to the touch.).
Let cool completely, and then cut into squares. Store between layers of waxed paper up to two weeks.

*I love getting my pecan flour from here.


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