Tag Archives: Chocolate

Crowded Granola Bars – Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Coconut, Cranberries, and Chocolate

Granola Bar
Granola Bar

This recipe is originally from a base granola bar recipe from Melissa Griffiths (BlessThis Mess.com), but I have amplified instructions to make them hold together better than the ones I first made with Melissa’s recipe. I now grind up some of the ingredients smaller and make sure they are packed together well.

I’ve added sunflower seeds to the basic oats and almonds, but will probably try sesame or flax seeds some time. When I run out of dried cranberries, I’ll use blueberries or cherries. Maybe white chocolate instead of the semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. Find your favorites.

The flavor is pretty sweet, but the constituents are good fiber and nutritious – keeping them small limits the calories. We have found one to be a satisfying snack for a perk-up on the 9th hole, on the outward stretch of a long walk, or even instead of lunch. Enjoy!

Makes 24 bars (2″ x 2″ x 3/8″)

Granola Bar Ingredients  Ingredients 

For toasting as the base:

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds (or other raw seed)
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds (or other raw nut), ground to 1/8″ pieces

For melting as the glue:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

For adding to melted glue:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavoring, like almond, etc.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For more texture and flavor:

  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (like cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.), ground (with coconut) in a food processor or blender)
  • 1/4 cup coconut, ground

Then later, when mix is cooler:

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or white chocolate, etc.)


  • Full-sized baking sheet
  • Quarter sheet pan (rimmed baking sheet 12″ x 81/2″ or comparable)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray coconut or olive oil
  • Bench knife (for you bakers) or sharp knife – a 6″ chef’s knife or santoku would work
  • Large mixing bowl and rubber spatula

Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation

1 – Pre-heat oven to 350˚ F. 

2 – Combine oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds, then spread evenly on the full-sized baking sheet. Bake in 350˚F oven for 8-10 minutes.

3 – While oats and nuts are toasting, combine butter, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat to make the glue. Stir continuously while it all melts together, then remove from heat.

4 – Stir in the vanilla and salt to the sweet glue.

5 – Pour the toasted oats, nuts, and seeds into the large mixing bowl, then drizzle in the sweet glue. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula, making sure that all the oats are coated.

6 – Mix in the dried fruit and coconut.

7 – Wait 5 or 10 minutes to let the mixture cool, then stir in the chocolate chips.

8 – Poor the mixture onto the foil-lined quarter sheet pan, making sure it is spread evenly. Then, using the flat bottom of a measuring cup or glass, press down firmly to pack it together well.

9 – Cut the firmly packed mixture into 2″ squares (leaving them in the pan), then refrigerate for a couple of hours. Break them apart to wrap in foil or individual small bags. Store in fridge.


Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Crowded Cookies (Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip)

Crowded Cookies - Oatmeal, Pecans, Chocolate Chips, and Raisins
Crowded Cookies – Oatmeal, Pecans, Chocolate Chips, and Raisins


Yields about 30 3-inch cookies
Based originally on Merrie Wold’s Best Oatmeal Cookies.

3 eggs, well-beaten

1/2 cup organic raisins, for example, Red Flame or Thompson

1/2 cup freeze-dried organic blueberries or cranberries or a combination

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Vegan Baking Sticks or butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut palm sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1 cup organic chocolate chips: dark chocolate, white chocolate,  semi-sweet chocolate, or a combination

1 cup pecan or walnut halves

Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation

1 – Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Add the raisins and blueberries and cranberries (if using), plus the vanilla. Let stand for 1 hour. Take out vegan sticks or butter to soften while waiting.

2 – Preheat convection oven to 350˚F or regular oven to 375˚F.

3 – In separate bowl, whisk together these dry ingredients to blend them thoroughly: flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon.

3 – In another large bowl, use a handheld or stand mixer to cream together butter/baking sticks with both sugars, until thoroughly combined and fluffy.

4 – Stir egg mixture into creamed sugars.

5 – Add the flour mixture to the creamed sugars, a little at a time to blend well. Dough will be thick.

6 – Mix in oatmeal, chocolate chips, and pecans.

7 – Using a 2-inch scoop or two large spoons, form 2-inch balls. Place 12 to a large ungreased cookie sheet, baking one sheet at a time. While one sheet is baking, keep the rest of the dough cool in the refrigerator. When one sheet comes out, put the next one in.

8 – Bake 10 – 12 minutes, or until outside rim of cookies are beginning to crisp and starting to turn golden.

9 – Remove cookie sheet from oven and leave cookies untouched on the pan for 5 minutes so that they set. Using a spatula or pancake turner, carefully remove each cookie from sheet and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. If required, store in an airtight container or freeze.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Classical Chocolate Chip Cookies – Tweaked

Classical Chocolate Chip Cookies - Tweaked
Classical Chocolate Chip Cookies – Tweaked



Yield – About 3 dozen 2-inch cookies.
Allow at least 5 hours before baking, ideally overnight, in the freezer.

  • 2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon espresso powder or 1 tube Starbucks Via Ready Brew Italian Roast Decaf
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated coconut palm sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups organic dark chocolate chips, at least 65% cocoa solids (fair trade, if available)
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon Flaked Sea Salt

 Preparation (Chef's hat)


1 – In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, kosher salt and espresso powder/coffee powder to mix well.

2 – In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing on a towel, if using a handheld mixer), use the paddle attachment on slow, then medium speed, to cream the butter, coconut palm sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract together until smooth and fluffy.

3 – Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing in thoroughly before adding in the next.

4 – Starting on low speed (to avoid blowing the flour around the kitchen), add in the flour mixture, gradually increasing the speed until just combined.

5 – Mix in the chocolate chips, the nuts, and the flaked salt.

6 – Divide the dough into thirds. Using 3 half-sheet pan size parchment paper, roll 3 logs, twisting the ends to seal up.

7 – Freeze cookie rolls for at least 5 hours, ideally overnight, or up to a month. Keep in freezer until ready to bake.

8 – Preheat oven to 375˚ F.

9 – Remove one cookie roll at a time and unwrap. Using a sharp chef’s knife or serrated bread knife, cut 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices and arrange on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet.

9 – Bake in oven for 10 – 12 minutes or until set around edges, but not burnt.

10 – Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a rack. Store in airtight container, if not consumed immediately.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Two Extra Virgins

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Chocolate Cinnamon Foccacia
Chocolate Cinnamon Foccacia

We tasted extra virgin olive oils at the last public meeting…

… of the Culinary Historians of San Diego (CHSD) (CHSanDiego.com). Mary Platis and Laura Bashar (TwoExtraVirgins.com), authors of Cooking Techniques and Recipes with Olive Oil, walked us through the tastings and the history of California olive oil.

We learned that “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” is a recent designation, indicating the first, cold pressing, (without heat or chemicals: so-called “refining”). Our mouths learned that even among extra virgin olive oils, the taste can range from mild and buttery to fruity, even to catch-the-back-of-your-throat peppery.

As with wine, the flavor of olive oil depends on several factors: geography, age of the trees, variety of fruit, as well as the pressing. The best infused olive oils are those in which the flavoring, like jalapeños or herbs or citrus fruits, are cold pressed along with the olives.

Mary and Laura stress the importance of tasting before you buy — find suppliers with a tasting room so that you can choose an oil that you like. Even with a range of top quality extra virgin olive oils, it is the particular flavor that appeals to youthat matters.

Olive trees were first planted in all the California missions during the 18th century. That original variety became known as Mission, with other varieties following.

After the American Civil War, the first commercial orchards were planted in Santa Barbara, producing olives for the market within four years.

Even before the turn of the 20th century, nearly 90,000 trees were growing throughout the state. Today, California ranks as the world’s third largest producer of olive oil.

As half of the CHSD Hospitality committee, I needed to come up with a treat or two that would reflect the theme of the talk. (Carole, the other half of the committee, was recovering from surgery, so I was playing on my own this month.)

Focaccia – a flat Italian bread made with olive oil – seemed a good choice.

I ordered a platter of little sandwiches from Pan Bon (www.panbon.us), a new café/bakery/deli/restaurant that’s one of my favorite new places in Little Italy. (Their other place is in Verona, Italy.) The bread was light and fluffy, with a delicious vein of prosciutto and fontina. The sandwiches were perfect as a traditional offering.

But, I also wanted something a little different. I wanted to get my own hands into dough and olive oil. I wanted something sweet to marry with the coffee and tea we serve after the talk. What’s better than dark chocolate, with a breath of cinnamon, a sprinkle of sugar? That’s what my muse whispered to me.

Besides, maybe at first glance, it might look like a more typical focaccia, studded with black olives and flaked sea salt, a sort of culinary joke.

Have a beautiful and delicious day! - Barbara
Have a beautiful and delicious day! – Barbara
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Chocolate Cinnamon Focaccia

Chocolate Cinnamon Foccacia
Chocolate Cinnamon Focaccia

Baked in one half-sheet (jelly roll) pan (12” x 17” x 1”), the yield is 48 – 2” square pieces, fewer if cut larger. Overall, this takes about 3-4 hours in elapsed time to make, but most of this is time for the two risings, then baking.


Onion icon smallIngredients

  • 1 3/4 cup warm water (110 – 115˚F)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (for yeast growth)
  • 5 cups (about 2 pounds by weight) organic unbleached Artisan Bread Enriched Flour (for example, Bob’s Red Mill, plus more for kneading)
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup fair trade organic dark (bittersweet) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup (2 separate measures) extra virgin olive oil + a little more (1/4 cup) for coating bowl when rising and brushing on at end
  • 1/4 cup coarse-grain, sparkling white sugar

Chef's hat icon smallerPreparation

1 – Proof the yeast by adding it to water (not hotter than 115˚F), along with the granulated sugar for yeast and stir. Let it stand for 5 – 10 minutes for it to become bubbly and fragrant.

2 – In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, salt, coconut palm sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate chips to distribute evenly. Attach the bowl to the mixer.

3 – Attach the dough hook. Stir yeasty water, then add it to mixer bowl, along with 1/2 cup olive oil.

4 – Mix on low speed at first, gradually increasing to medium speed, kneading for 5 – 6 minutes. Bits of warmed chocolate and the cinnamon will turn the dough a pale, streaky brown.

5 – Flour a board or other clean surface, and turn out kneaded flour mixture. Knead it by hand a few more times, then shape it into a ball.

6 – Drizzle 2 – 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large mixing bowl, making sure that the inside of the entire bowl is well coated.

7 – Put the ball of dough in the bottom of the large mixing bowl, turning it around in the olive oil to coat it completely.

8 – Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm (up to 115˚ F) place for at least 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

9 – Remove dough from bowl, and knead by hand a few times to remove excess air. The dough should be springy, smooth. and stretchy.

10 – Onto the half sheet pan, pour 1/3 cup of olive oil.

11 – Stretch the dough out on the oily pan, pulling it to the edges and corners, poking your fingers through to make little holes. These will fill in as the dough rises, and give your bread a nice bumpy top crust.

12 – When the dough is stretched over the full pan, brush on a thin coat of olive oil. Sprinkle on the coarse sugar.

13 – Cover the pan with a clean linen towel and let rest for 1  to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has risen to the top of the pan.

14 – After 45 minutes of the dough resting and rising, preheat the oven to 425˚F.

15 – When bread has risen to the top of the pan, bake at 425˚F for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the bread has a golden crust and registers 205 – 210˚F on an instant-read thermometer.

16 – Cool bread in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes to let it set. Then, using a long spatula, remove from pan and cool on a rack at least 5 – 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with coffee or tea.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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