Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito are back at it again with their newest release, Baked Elements: Our Ten Favorite Ingredients. As with their first two Books, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking & Baked Explorations, this too is a must have. Beautifully illustrated, well written and with recipes that tempt the taste buds, but are easily made with readily available ingredients and clear instructions. The book will not disappoint! Packed with 75 inventive new recipes revolving around their ten-most loved ingredients. Peanut butter, Lemon & Lime, Caramel, Booze, Pumpkin, Malted Milk Powder, Cinnamon, Cheese, Chocolate, and Banana. Complete with the commentary that fans adore, chapters also include feature-ingredient infographics with quicky facts & charts, and helpful Baked notes that make creating these desserts easy.
For my choice to make for my review, I opted for the “Good Morning Sunshine Bars. I’ve made these twice, and my husband is asking for them again! Delicious little bars, and they’re a No Bake recipe. You use a pan, bowl and spoon and a pan to press the mixture into. These go quick! I made a double batch to take to a family reunion, and they had a hard time making it to the table. They were passed from person, to person and I heard a little kid say to his mom, “these are the kind of snacks we need mom”.
Good Morning Sunshine Bars
We rarely identify our “favorite” recipes for the simple reason that they change all the time based on mood, environment, and time of the year. Therefore, we consider it a slightly big deal to induct this recipe into the rarefied kingdom of “Matt & Renato’s All time favorite recipes”, which is neither a book nor a file nor a thing, but just a place in our collective minds. The recipe itself is embarrassingly simple – really, just cereal (therefore making these bars a perfectly plausible breakfast solution), peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate. Combined, these ingredients make a bar that is absurdly transcendental – salty, sweet, crunchy, and addictive, with nods to some purer form of childhood nostalgia (think bakes sales and campfire tales) – yet uniquely current like an Eames chair. We make them for afternoon snacks, for parties, for romantic dates, for large events. In fact, there is rarely an occasion not to make these bars. We actually prefer them in the morning, with a hearty cup of coffee. The world just seems like a better place when you wake up with our Good Morning Sunshine Bars. – Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
Baked Note: Though it might be tempting to cover the entire surface of the bar in chocolate as opposed to making just a few chocolate stripes or zigzags, we encourage you to refrain. Too much chocolate obscures some of the peanut flavor and crunch, thereby diluting the whole Good Morning Sunshine Bar experience.
Yield: 24 bars
6 cups Crunchy, Plain Cereal (Rice Chex or something similar works best)
1 1/4 Cups Salted Peanuts, coarsely Chopped
1 Cup Firmly Packed Dark Brown Sugar
1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Cup Smooth Peanut butter
1 Tbsp. Pure Vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
6 oz. Good Quality Milk Chocolate, chopped
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13 inch baking. Line the pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs the pan on two sides. Butter the parchment.
Place the cereal and peanuts in a large bowl and use your hands to toss together until mixed well.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil for one full minute. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir until the mixture is combined.
Pour the sugar mixture over the cereal mixture and use a spoon or well-greased hands (be careful as the liquid may still be very hot) to toss until the cereal is completely coated with the sugar mixture.
Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan. Grease your hands and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, being careful not to crush the cereal. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. (If you wish to speed this process, ou may place the entire pan in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Use a spoon or piping bag to decorate the tops of the bars in a stripe or zigzag pattern. Allow the chocolate to set.
Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchement paper overhang, cut them into approximately 3 by 1 1/2 inch rectangles (i.e. candy bars).
The bars can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. If the weather is hot and humid, you might want to keep them in the refrigerator instead.
This book is full of recipes that I want to make. As nice as all the other books they have wrote to date, this will be a welcomed addition to my collection. This book will not disappoint. If you own the other 2 books, you’ll surely want this one to complete your set.