Cherry, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

It may be hard to believe, but some have lived their entire lives (enter boyfriend) without tasting the decadence and deliciousness that is a granola bar. Granola bars and granola itself offer myriad “flavors” of various goodies, but the base is pretty much universal: oats and nuts. One of my favorite combinations is (dark) chocolate and dried cherries. The almonds on the surface of these bars became roasted and added an extra depth of flavor.

Homemade granola bars > store-bought. Plain, unalterable fact. Unless you burn yours or something. Don’t do that.

Cherry, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Adapted from this recipe

2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup wheat germ

3/4 teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon (it’s just more flavorful and pungent, in a good way)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

~ 1/2 cup honey

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup dried sour cherries

3/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F, and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper (just lay a piece in it; it will stay put when you pour in the granola).

Combine oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, and salt. Make a small well in the center and pour in honey, egg, oil, and vanilla.

Here comes the dirty work. Mix this all up using your hands. Or get your boyfriend to do it so you don’t have to deal with sticky hands covered in oatmeal. Add the cherries, chocolate chips, and almonds and mix them in too. It might seem a little hard to incorporate evenly, but oh well, guess that’s the spice of life.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan, and press it down; try to get everything to hold together.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the bars turn golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, and then cut; do not allow the bars to cool longer because they do get harder and will crumble. Wrap each one in plastic wrap to help it stay together as it cools.

Thoughts:

I have never made granola bars before and these came out really yummy, but not exactly what I was picturing in my mind. They are more cakey, due to the flour, and with the chocolate, are more of a crunchy sort of dessert-bar-cookie than a granola bar. I want to try another recipe without flour and see if it makes a difference. I also had trouble keeping them together, but probably should have chopped the cherries and used slivered/sliced almonds.

All in all, these were delectable and the bars that stayed perfectly bar-shaped were well-received at a recent gathering.

But of course, crumbles, and those less bar-shaped than others were sacrificed… into my belly.

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