We left Phoenix for Lawrence, KS while my husband attended law school. Lawrence has tons of small-town charm, but I missed the variety and volume of bigger city dining options. Despite being small, the Lawrence culinary community did do a few things very well. For example, our proximity to Kansas City gave us access to some of the best BBQ in the world. Also, I’d put the French toast at Milton’s Café up against anyone’s in the country.The Merc is what I miss most; it is a locally owned co-op that I frequented at least weekly. We called it a cozier, nicer and more affordable version of Whole Foods. In addition to outstanding local produce, they had the most amazing hot food bar, often with interesting and excellently prepared ethnic foods, hearty soups, and decadent baked goods. My favorites were their fried tofu and these little honey nut cookies called ‘bumble bees’.I’ve searched for the bumble bee recipe for more than two years since leaving Lawrence for California. I even wrote down the ingredients before we left so I could try my hand at recreating them. No luck. I found one blog that mentioned the Merc’s bumble bees, but she didn’t disclose a recipe. Finally, last week I took the direct approach by emailing the Merc and asked them for the recipe. To my utter surprise and pure excitement, they sent me the recipe!I made two batches last weekend and wasn’t sure I was going to share this recipe here because I didn’t think I had quite perfected it. Since I had made so many, I brought a couple dozen of my extra bees into work and left them in the break room. The next morning, my co-workers bombarded me questions, wondering if I had made the bees and pleading for the recipe. I was struck by the overtly positive reaction. I mean, I have always loved them, but didn’t know if others would feel the same.I figure, given the prodding, the recipe is worth sharing. The kicker is that the bees are 100% natural; no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and are gluten-free, if that’s your thing.
What do you think of the bees? Is this something you’d make? Please let me know how yours turn out.
Honey Nut Bumble Bees (adapted from The Merc, Lawrence KS)
Yields = 40
- ¾ cup natural peanut butter
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly toast the seeds, nuts, and coconut. For best results, toast each item separately. Check regularly and move around with a spatula. Toasting time is approximately 5-7 minutes.
Place the honey and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the nuts, seeds and coconut to the honey and peanut butter and mix thoroughly.
While the dough is still warm, portion out with a small scoop or tablespoon. Dip the scoop in water periodically to help smooth the bees.
These can be frozen for future use, or baked off right away. To bake, set the oven to 350°. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until golden.
- If you notice that your bees have spread while baking, after they get out of the oven you can use water and a spoon to reform them into a rounder shape. Dip the spoon in water and push the flattened edges toward the center.
- Buy bulk sesame seeds in bulk at stores like Costco or Smart & Final; they are much cheaper than the little jars at grocery stores.
- Look for unsweetened coconut in the health food section at your local grocery store.