Feb 13, 2011

Monkey Bars

Snack cakes. Arguably, two of the best words in existence, melded together to make one irresistible munchie. Unfortunately, they have a bad wrap, thanks to dummies like Ding Dongs and Ho Hos.

But can you blame them? Whoever bestowed the names "Twinkie" and "Ring Ding" did no favor to make them sound appetizing. In fact, they don't even sound like food. And according to some sources, they're not. 

In his book "Twinkie, Deconstructed," Steve Ettlinger discloses that 5 of the 39 (39!) ingredients in a Twinkie come from rocks. So America's beloved cream-filled sponge cakes not only don't contain cream of any kind, but are stuffed with ingredients mined from oil fields and phosphate mines. What?!

But snack cakes don’t have to be the plastic-wrapped, preservative-packed nuclear war-surviving carb cakes that fill the lunch boxes of America. They can be homemade, nutritious, and heck, even spiked!

This here, is a snack cake for adults: A moist, spiced banana bread-like cake speckled with rum-soaked raisins and walnuts and dusted with sweet powdered sugar. Just peaking over one hundred calories a serving, they're a deliciously guiltless way to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

And the best part about adult snack cakes? Aside from the lowered risk of bully thievery, you can eat them whenever you want, although they really shine alongside a mug of morning Joe.

So put down that indestructible Twinkie and pick up something healthier. Something made with real ingredients that doesn't need faux frosting swirls to be enjoyed. Just a fork.

Monkey Bars
Cooking Light, October 2001
Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 bar)

1/2  cup  raisins
1 1/2  tablespoons  dark rum or apple juice
1  cup  all-purpose flour
1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
1/4  teaspoon  salt
3/4  cup  packed brown sugar
1/4  cup  butter, softened
1/2  cup  mashed ripe banana
3  tablespoons  low-fat buttermilk
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
2  large egg whites
1/3  cup  chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
1  tablespoon  powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the raisins and rum in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high for 1 minute, and set aside. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 3 ingredients (flour through salt) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Set aside.

Combine brown sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add banana and next 3 ingredients (banana through egg whites), beating well. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in raisin mixture and walnuts.

Spread the batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool the bars completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 135 (31% from fat), Fat: 4.7g (sat 2g,mono 1.1g,poly 1.3g), Protein: 2g, Carbohydrate: 21.8g, Fiber: 0.9g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Iron: 0.8mg, Sodium: 136mg, Calcium: 27mg.
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