Adapted from Super Natural Every Day (p. 191- “Carnival Cookies”) by Heidi Swanson
Makes 20-24 bars
To make your own almond meal, simply drop ½ cup (60g/ 2oz) whole almonds (skin and all) into a food processor until they have a texture of sand. Don’t process the almonds too much because you’ll then end up with almond butter, and although that is lovely, we don’t need that for this recipe.
Instead of brown butter, ¼ cup (60ml) of extra virgin coconut oil (like in the original recipe), or simply- ¼ cup (½ stick / 4 tblspns / 2 oz) butter work just as great.
I used macadamia nuts in the recipe, but feel free to use an equal amount of any other nut, or even a combination. These bars taste especially delicious with a macadamia nut & pistachio combination!
If you’d like to make your own popcorn, like I did, I’ve included some instructions at the end of the recipe, on how to make your own popcorn in a large pot
For Carnival Bars:
½ cup (8 tablespoons / 113g / 4 oz) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups (120g / 4.25 oz) rolled oats
½ cup (60g / 2 oz) almond meal
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 ½ cups (340g / 12 oz) well-mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup (50g / 1.75 oz) macadamia nuts, toasted (or and equal amount of another nut)
⅓ cup (50g / 1.75 oz) unshelled pistachios (or and equal amount of another nut)
1 cup (170g / 6 oz)dark chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 ½ cups (20g / .75 oz) popped corn
For Chocolate Topping:
Scant cup (142 g / 5 oz ) dark chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC / Gas Mark 4. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-by-11-inch [20cm-by-28cm] tart pan (or equivalent) with parchment paper.
Melt the ½ cup butter in a small pot over medium heat until the butter is a hazelnut brown and gives of a nutty aroma. Strain using a paper coffee filter or paper towel over a fine mesh strainer (being sure that the solids are left behind). Measure out ½ cup / 60ml, set aside for 10 minutes (use the extra to spread on toast; you’ll thank me).
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, 1/4 cup brown butter, and vanilla extract. Add the oat mixture to the banana mixture. Stir until combined.
Fold in the chocolate, then the nuts, and lastly the popped corn. The dough will be looser than a standard cookie dough, but don’t worry about it.
Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined tart pan and smoosh it around to level it off.
Bake for 15- 20 minutes, until the sides are deeply golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Once cooled, prepare the Chocolate Topping:
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave) until liquidy and shiny.
Evenly pour the melted chocolate onto the carnival bars and place the entire pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes, until the chocolate topping has firmed up and the bars are easier to cut.
Cut into 20-24 bars with a sharp knife.
Making your own popcorn:
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, place in ⅓ cup of popcorn kernels and 1 ½ tablespoons of a neutral-tasting oil, just enough to coat the kernels. Place on medium-high heat, joggling and sliding the pan around on the burner. Once the popcorn has stopped popping, immediately remove the popcorn from the pan and place in a large heat-proof bowl.