Backpacking & Outside / {Adventures} / {Recipes & Eats}

awesome squares {recipe}

Back in the day, in the same era that Jared and I met, I spent 85% of my time with a pack strapped to my back trekking through the wilderness.

And these, my friends, were my favorite granola bars.  Keep in my mind that this season lasted for a good 9 months.  Saying these were my favorite granola bars is quite a statement.  I have strong opinions about food in general, but especially trail food and especially granola bars.  I’m serious about my trail food here, folks.

I thought I would share the recipe for Awesome Squares because I’m sending them to my brother-in-law, Paul who’s doing a lot of “hiking” (translation: running through the woods with a full pack) right now.

I think these bars are prime for peak day.  I’m rarely hungry when I’m pushing my body to top out, and Awesome Squares offer a lot of calories per bite {have you ever had the experience halfway up a mountain when you know your body needs some extra energy juice but food doesn’t sound good and all you want to do is nap? That’s the moment you need an Awesome Square!}.  Translation: I do not make these for a snack between class, they have so many calories I’d be shopping for bigger pants in a hurry.  But when you’re pushing your body hard and you need a lot of caloric bang for your buck Awesome Squares are perfect.

So, here it is:

AWESOME SQUARES RECIPE

Ingredients:

2 cups dried fruit: dried cranberries, apricots, cherries, etc {I made this batch with cranberries, but back in the day I used dried apricots, however the original recipe called for raisins.  So, use whichever one sounds great to you! Go nuts!  I mean berries.}

14 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Rind

1 Cup of Flour (see note under brown sugar)

1/2 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 Cup Butter

1 and 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar (note: I used 3/4 cup honey instead.  Because a honey/butter cream isn’t as stiff as a brown sugar/cream I added an extra 1/4 Cup of flour; just so ya know.)

1 and 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

1 and 1/2 Cups Oats

1 Cups of Chopped Nuts (original recipe called for walnuts, I used almonds cuz they’re cheaper and I is cheap)

Directions:

Grease a glass or ceramic 8 x 8 baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Do a good job greasing the dish–these squares will be a disappointment if they’re have stuck to the pan.  Speaking from experience on this one.

Combine dried fruit, milk, lemon juice, and grated lemon in a saucepan.  Over medium heat stir until bubbly, then remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl combine and stir flour, baking soda, and salt.  In another medium sized bowl beat butter, brown sugar (or honey), and vanilla together.  Stir in flour mixture and add oats and nuts to bowl.  Set aside 1 and 1/2 cups of this batter, and press the remainder into the greased 8 x 8.  Spread the dried fruit/sweetened condensed mixture over top of the pressed batter (within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pan–if it touches the edge they get a little dicey to get out of the pan).  Sprinkle the batter set aside over top and press in lightly.

Bake for 25-30 at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until cooked through (when I dug out the directions, all it had was the time in the oven, not the temperature.  I tried 350 but turned my oven down because the edges were getting really crisp but the center wasn’t cooked.  I’m saying this so that a) you keep an eye on them and b) you know they might need closer to 40 minutes in the oven).  After removing from the oven, cut into squares (of awesomeness). Make sure to run your knife around the edge of the dish.  Allow to cool before removing from the pan (I left them in the pan overnight and wrapped them up the next morning).  If you’re backpacking with a big group double bag them in a gallon size ziploc.  Makes 9 awesome squares.

Now, go climb some mountains!

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