Cranberry and chocolate granola bars

January 23, 2011 § 4 Comments

Last weekend we visited some good friends who live too far away for my liking.  They are really only about 40 minutes away (without traffic), but it’s just too far.  I’d much rather they lived no more than 10 minutes away, just to be able to stop by and say hello for any occasion.  Instead, it feels more like a special occasion every time we see each other.  Because of that, I usually feel the need to bring some type of treat with me, just to honor the occasion.  We planned on going for a hike last weekend, so I figured granola bars would be perfect for the occasion.  The only problem: these granola bars had to be vegan and legume and nut-free.  Our friends are vegan, and my wife has a legume and nut allergy, which frequently makes them mutually-exclusive when it comes to sharing food.  Creativity is a necessity.  Now, a vegan granola bar is really not a stretch.  But, a legume and nut-free granola bar (what, no peanuts?!)– that’s a little more of a stretch.  Fortunately, we had recently learned that the so-called cashew nut is actually the seed of the fruit of the cashew tree and often not a problem for people with nut allergies.  (Warning:  lots of cashews are processed with other nuts and therefore contaminated with other nut or peanut oils, so I’d be wary of snacking on just any cashews if you have a nut or peanut allergy.)   I found a really great customizable recipe for granola bars over on smitten kitchen and I used seeds as the “nutty” base: cashews and sunflower, to be exact.  I loved the recipe because I hardly had to do any work– just decide on the ingredients I wanted to use, mix them together and bake.  So easy and so delicious!  I really see no reason to buy granola bars at the store again.  I’ll just be making these with whatever ingredients we happen to have on hand.     Cranberry and chocolate granola bars

Yield: 16 square bars

  • 1 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 oz. dried cranberries
  • 3 oz. chocolate chips
  • 3 oz. chopped, unsalted cashews
  • 2 oz. sunflower seeds
  • 2 oz. puffed rice cereal
  • 1/3 cup sunflower butter
  • 6 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tblsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tblsp water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8x8in baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, maple syrup, corn syrup and water.

4.  Add the wet ingredient mixture and the sunflower butter to the dry ingredients and mix well.

5. Press the mixture in to the prepared pan.

6.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown at the edges.

7.  Remove from the oven and let cool entirely in the pan.  Once cooled, chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before cutting in to squares with a sharp knife.

Yummy granola mix before baking

Notes on these granola bars: I loved the flavor in these granola bars, but I had some trouble with them sticking together as actual bars.  They started to crumble more in to gooey granola, rather than maintain their bar shape.  For the next time, I might try using honey instead of maple syrup, because it seems a bit more gooey.  Also, I think adding more of the sunflower butter would help.  And, if I make a non-vegan version, I might try using butter instead of the oil and maybe adding an egg to help it all stick together.  What is great about this recipe is that you can pretty much do whatever you want, and they are guaranteed to still taste great!

Toasted coconut chocolate chip bars

October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

These treats normally go by any number of other names, but, I have to say, I’m not a big fan of any of those other names.  I much prefer the more descriptive but boring: toasted coconut chocolate chip bar.  The main inspiration I had for these bars was to use up some pantry ingredients (namely, coconut and chocolate chips).  Not much of an inspiration, I know, but you can’t taste that in the final product.  They turned out moist, chewy and delicious!  I adapted the recipe from Baking Illustrated.  Here’s what I used:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes.  Mix coconut 2-3 times during baking to toast it evenly.  It should be light brown.  Set aside and let cool.

3. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray, if desired.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

5. In another medium bowl, mix the melted butter and brown sugar.  Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

6. With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Fold until all ingredients are just mixed, but don’t overmix!

7. Add the chocolate chips and toasted coconut and fold into the mixture.

8.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth slightly on top using a rubber spatula.

9. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes, until the top is shiny and crackly.

10. Let cool on cooling rack and cut into bars before serving.

Notes on these bars: These bars were not exactly what I expected out of the oven.  For some reason, I imagined them to be a little bit more cakey, and less dense.  But, I’m glad I imagined wrong.  I think the density was actually perfect, and lead to a very moist and perfectly chewy bar.  These were really great right out of the oven (I kept cutting off bigger and bigger pieces before they had even cooled!), but they also kept very well in an airtight contained for almost a week!  There is really only one small change I might consider next time:  add more coconut.  I love coconut, so I could always have more, but I think the flavor here was a bit too subtle.  Maybe 2 cups of coconut would have worked just a bit better?  I’ll let you know how it turns out next time.

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