It took multiple tries to get the ratios correct; I'm used to making chewy, as opposed to crisp-ish bars. But I used the ingredients on the labels of the bars as my guide and a few delicious stumbles later (the failed attempts were still yummy, even if they did not stick together), I've got it! And here's equally appealing news: they are incredibly easy to make with very few ingredients.
Nevertheless, be sure to read all of my tips and cautions before you jump in. For example, lining the pan with foil--and giving it a spritz of cooking spray (you could grease the foil, too) is critical, as is (a) cutting the bars before they are completely cool (they will break apart if you cut them fully cooled--not a terrible thing, but you'll have uneven portions and a lot of crumbles) and (b) waiting until the bars are completley cool before attempting to peel off the foil (the bars will stick like barnacles when warm, but peel off with ease when cooled).
But that's it! You can recreate the flavor blends of existing TRIO and KIND bars (their websites include ingredient lists of all of the flavors), or mastermind your own combinations. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for a coffee break and a TRIO bar. Enjoy--and let me know if you try them! I would love to link your experiments to this page to share with all.
|When the bars first come out, they will not look set; don't worry.|
Let them cool in the pan at room temperature for about
15 minutes and they will hold together (but will still be soft enough to cut).
|Ta-da! Once the bars are completely cooled, they will lift right off of the foil!|
Homemade TRIO Bars or Homemade KIND Bars
Basic Ratio for TRIO Bars:
1 cup toasted or raw nuts (e.g., cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup seeds (e.g., green pumpkin seeds (pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
1/3 cup chopped dried fruit (any variety/combination to create different tastes; this also includes unsweetened coconut)
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
(note: honey will not work--bars will be sticky, not crispy)
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8-inch square pan (9-inch is too big* see note below) with foil and lightly spray with (do not skip these steps!).
2. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
3. Add the salt and syrup and stir to coat.
4. Scrape/dump mixture into prepared pan. Now, to press it out evenly: Tear off a good size piece of foil (around the size of the pan or slightly smaller). Lightly spray it with nonstick spray. Use the sprayed side of foil to press and spread evenly into pan. Works like a charm!
5. Bake for 18 minutes (the bars will not be hard at this point). Place pan on cooling rack and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes (give or take) until partially set up (it will depend on how hot or cold the kitchen—just don’t cool completely). Use the sides of foil to lift the bars from the pan. Do not try to remove from foil—they will stick like crazy. Cut into 8 bars.
6. Go and do something else until bars are completely cooled. Once cooled, the bars will lift right off of the foil. Wrap in parchment or wax paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
KIND Bars Variation: KIND bars follow the same basic ratio as the TRIO bars except (1) they do not have seeds, (2) the fruit and nut bars include a small amount of crisp rice cereal; (3) there is also an all-nut (no fruit) option; and (4) KIND bars use honey (Trio bars use brown rice syrup), but you can use either, or barley malt syrup. Here’s what to do:
Fruit and Nuts KIND Bars: Follow recipe for TRIO Bars above, but omit the seeds; increase the nuts to 1-1/3 cups and add 1/4 cup crisp rice cereal (if cooking gluten free, be sure to use a gluten-free crisp rice cereal such as Erewhon; otherwise, Rice Crispies are fine).
Just Nuts KIND Bars: Follow recipe above for TRIO Bars, but omit the seeds and dried fruit; increase the nuts to 2 cups and add 1/4 cup crisp rice cereal (if cooking gluten free, be sure to use a gluten-free crisp rice cereal such as Erewhon; otherwise, Rice Crispies are fine).
Note about Toasted vs. Raw Nuts: I am a big fan of the toasted nut. You can use either raw or toasted in these bars, but seriously…they are so much yummier if you toast the nuts first! If you, like me, experience burst of laziness, feel free to use roasted nuts (seeds, too). If they are lightly salted, just be sure to omit the added salt.
Note about Measuring Nuts: Measure the nuts BEFORE you chop (i.e., 1 cup unchopped nuts, then chop them). If you measure 1 cup chopped nuts, you will have too many.
Note about Measuring Dried Fruit: Conversely to measuring nuts, here you want to chop the fruit first, and then measure.
Note about Pans: If you don’t have the correct pan size, don’t fret. If you have a 9-inch pan, you can increase all of the quantities slightly (e.g., about 1-2/3 to 1-3/4 cups total nuts and seeds, 1/2 cup dried fruit, 1/3 cup syrup). Cooking times remain the same. And if you only have a round pan, use it! Who says these have to be cut into rectangles? Wedges or crazy shapes are pretty cool and every bit as delicious.
Note about Sweeteners: So far I have only tried this with brown rice syrup and barley malt syrup so I cannot vouch for the success of using honey. I’ll test with the honey in the next few days to make sure. But it should work just fine!
Update: DO NOT USE RICE SYRUP. Since writing this original post, research has been released regarding the link between rice--notably rice syrup, including organic varieties--and high levels of arsenic. Here is a video report from ABC, but you can find the research from multiple major news sources:
(UPDATE: honey does not work very well. The bars turn out sticky, not crispy, and do not hold together well. . But I've now also tested with Lyle's Golden syrup (all-natural cane syrup), which is much less expensive than brown rice syrup and barley malt syrup when purchased on amazon and it works perfectly!