The world is powered through small acts of compassion: a simple text message to say thinking of you to a friend, taking time to truly listen to another person, giving a voice to the needs of others, a genuine smile towards a stranger. Though compassion comes in many different methods and is as varied as people themselves, showing compassion does not come easily to me. I am sometimes awkward with words, the right order often failing to appear. Instead, I channel my feelings and thoughts of goodwill into the food that I bake. I may not be able to speak away the worry or ease the pain, but I can pull up a chair to the table and share burdens and bars alike.
Compassion towards others, in acts both big and small, comes in many forms—even dessert—which is why I wanted to bake up something sweet and special using one of my new favorite flours: sprouted wheat.
Sprouted wheat flour is a fine, soft textured flour with a mild, nutty flavor. The flour is made from white whole wheat berries which are sprouted, dried, and milled. The process of sprouting enhances the nutritional benefits of the 100% whole grain flour, improving the digestibility and providing a good source of fiber. With an inherent sweetness and creamy appearance, the flour is quickly becoming a pantry staple in my kitchen.
For everyday use, sprouted wheat flour can be substituted 1:1 for whole wheat flour or up to 50% for all-purpose flour in your favorite recipes. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose flour, you can use 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup sprouted wheat flour instead.
These vanilla chai bars are similar to a sweet, spiced blondie. The recipe starts by whisking together sprouted wheat flour with a leavener, chai spice, and salt. The dry ingredients are set aside and the liquid ingredients are prepared.
In a saucepan, butter and brown sugar are melted together until they form a smooth paste. Once the mixture cools, eggs and vanilla extract are stirred into the mixture. The flour is gradually added and the batter is stirred until uniform. Sprouted wheat flour absorbs liquids and holds water better than other flours, resulting in a final product that stays moist.
The batter will be quite stiff when fully mixed. I recommend using a spatula to transfer the batter to a prepared 9" x 13" baking pan. Once there, use your hands to press the batter into an even layer. Using any other tool here is a fool's errand; the batter sticks to the tool and pulls away from the pan, making a simple task into a more complicated process.
The texture of the bars can be customized to fit your taste. For chewy bars, bake for 17-21 minutes, and for bars with a cake-like texture bake between 23-27 minutes. For my ideal texture, I baked the bars for 22 minutes, achieving the best of both worlds.
When the bars come out of the oven, they should be cooled for at least 15 minutes, or until warm to the touch, before adding the topping. The bars are brushed with a layer of butter and sprinkled with chai-spiced sugar. Then, the pan is shaken until the sugar forms an even layer and left to cool completely before slicing. Alternatively, the bars can be topped with a drizzle of white chocolate. However, I prefer the crunchy texture and contrast the sugar adds to the bars. The opportunity to lick granules of chai-spiced sugar from the tips of my fingers and corners of my lips is a source of joy.
For more recipe inspiration or to learn how to incorporate sprouted wheat flour into your favorite recipes – both savory and sweet – take a look at King Arthur Flour’s complete guide.
Sprouted Wheat Vanilla Chai Bars are a sweet, spiced version of a blondie. The bars are moist and chewy due to the addition of brown sugar. Covered with a layer of butter and chai-spiced sugar, the crunchy top and dense interior provide a contrast in textures. The recipe yields two dozen bars. With plenty to go around, these bars are a sweet treat to bake and share with family and friends, or perhaps as a token of compassion.
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Sprouted Wheat Vanilla Chai Bars
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
2 cups (227 grams) King Arthur Sprouted Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons chai spice*
2/3 cup (150 grams) unsalted butter
2 cups (425 grams) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Chai Spice Topping
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon chai spice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and chai spice until well blended. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together and forms a fairly smooth, shiny paste, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the hot mixture to a medium bowl and allow it to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir until well combined; the batter will be stiff. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake the bars for 17 to 21 minutes (for chewy bars) or 23 to 27 minutes (for cakier bars), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it; the top crust will have risen and fallen.
Remove the bars from the oven and allow them to cool for 15 minutes.
For the topping, mix together the sugar and chai spice in a small bowl.
Gently brush the melted butter evenly over the surface of the warm bars, then sprinkle on the spiced sugar, shaking and tilting the pan to distribute the sugar evenly.
Allow the bars to cool completely, then cut them into squares.
*To make homemade chai spice, mix together 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange zest
This post is sponsored through a partnership with King Arthur Flour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.