If you haven’t been following along on Instagram (and if you’re not, don’t start now, as the recent lack-of-chronology algorithm will surely make you rant & rave bitterly about the vagaries of social media platform designers… oh, wait. That’s just me.) you may not realize just how obsessed I’ve been lately with cereal bars. Specifically, these no-bake peanut butter & cacao nib cereal bars from Dolly & Oatmeal. But of course, now that I’ve made approximately 687 batches of these in the last month or so, I’ve run the gamut on jazzing them up: chocolate chips, dried cranberries and raisins, pepitas, sesame, flax, sunflower seeds, puffed millet, rice, and kamut, pistachios, cashews, hazlenuts, almonds, even bulghur wheat. If I could find puffed quinoa, I’d toss that in too.
To be honest, I can hardly, in good conscience, tell you to make these. I try not to use words like “addictive” when talking about food, because these days, people take that shit seriously. (While I think, “Of course you’re addicted to food. In the sense that 1) if you take it away, your body will ‘crave’ it (also known as “hunger”); and 2) you are addicted to food in much the same way you are “addicted” to water and “addicted” to air. Have I used enough irony quotes to get my point across yet?). But, y’all: these are addictive. Like, Lay’s potato chip addictive. Black jellybean addictive. (Shut up. They are too.) Dare I say, bacon addictive. Proceed at your own risk.
Strangely enough, until this weekend, I had not thought to try out my favorite puffed whole grain: one that I make nearly every day, one that I can hardly live without, my desert isle food: popcorn. And let me tell you, my longtime love did not disappoint.
The popcorn bars are airier than the cereal version, yet also somewhat firmer: they hold together a bit better than the cereal bars, making them a great choice for kids’ lunchboxes or a camping trip. The savory-to-sweet ratio, in terms of salted popcorn + olive oil + peanut butter + honey is just about perfect. And they are a little less dense and filling than the cereal bars, so you feel even more justified in eating
two three five for lunch. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Inspired by (No Bake) Peanut Butter + Cacao Nib Cereal Bars by Dolly and Oatmeal.
- 6 cups popped popcorn, lightly salted
- 1 cup raw peanuts
- ¼ cup pepitas
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- ½ cup cacao nibs
- ¾ cup peanut butter
- ¾ cup honey
- a large pinch Maldon flaky sea salt
- Line a 9″ X 13″ baking dish with parchment paper. Tear off another sheet of parchment to line the top.
- In a medium skillet, toast the peanuts, pepitas, sesame and flax seeds over low heat, tossing frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Pour into a large bowl. Add popcorn and cacao nibs. Toss well to mix.
- To the skillet, add honey and peanut butter. Whisk together over low heat until mixture is smooth and uniform, about 3 – 4 minutes. Pour over popcorn mixture in the bowl and mix very well, until popcorn is evenly coated and uniform. Scrape into the parchment-lined baking dish.
- With a rubber spatula, press popcorn mixture evenly into the corners and sides of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt. Top with the extra piece of parchment and press firmly and evenly (I use a straight-sided drinking glass for this), getting into the corners and along the edges. Chill, in the freezer or the fridge, for 30 – 60 minutes until completely cooled and set. Cut into bars and serve.
Yields 18 3″ X 2″ bars.
- Can easily be modified the tree-nut allergic with sunflower seed butter and any variety of seeds, dried fruit, etc.
- For a vegan version, try brown rice syrup, agave or maple syrup.
At room temperature for 2 to 3 days. For longer storage, or storage in warm or humid weather, keep refrigerated.