It's been a long road. One that was paved with chocolate and cookies, cakes and pies, glitter and ribbons and 'nog. Yes, it's been an undeniably fun holiday season, but I think it's time. Time to slow my roll down the highway to Fat City.
More importantly, taking a break from sugar is critical to my continuing ability to bake. I need to refresh my tastebuds. I'm pretty sure that my sugar tolerance has reached new highs, as suggested by a recent episode in which I felt that a glazed doughnut could really use a dip or two in chocolate ganache.
I'm not about to go on a crazy sugar free diet. I'm convinced my body would stop functioning if I did. But instead of baking scones or muffins or a breakfast bread that's filled with cookies, this week I'm baking oatmeal bars. They're like the elliptical trainer of breakfast sweets: a totally justifiable yet slightly lazy attempt at health.
Obviously the most important thing is that these taste good, and boy, do they. Mashed ripe bananas and just three wee tablespoons of melted butter provide the glue that keeps the bars together. The base is a mixture of oats, dried apricots, coconut flakes, and walnuts. After they're baked, the bars become golden, chewy, and mildly sweet. There is a prominent banana flavor, which makes a nice accompaniment to the fruity bites of apricot and coconut.
In a few weeks I could jazz these ups with chocolate chips, but I doubt I will. Just like a good glazed doughnut, I can recognize that these should stay the way they are.
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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.