This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned The Culinary Enthusiast written by Kelley. Her blog tagline is “For the love of cooking…and more importantly, eating” which pretty much sums up my life, so I was excited to see what recipes she had to offer. I went through all of her bread/breakfast/dessert/snack recipes (my favorite types of food to make), and picked out a bunch of things I was interested in trying. On that list was granola bars, and since I’ve had granola bars on my to-make list for ages, I decided to give those a try.
The recipe Kelley used came from Allrecipes, though she made some adaptations to the recipe she posted. I took the recipe and made a few more tweaks, and came up with something really great. I love granola bars, but find that so many pre-packaged ones are too sugary and lack any sort of nutrients, so it was a fun experiment to make my own. I liked being able to pick the flavorings, and imagine these would never get old with all the different flavor combinations you could try.
I stopped at Whole Foods before I made these to get a few tasty add-ins, and ended up picking up a trail mix that included candied vanilla almonds, chocolate covered almonds, and dried cherries. I chopped up the vanilla and chocolate almonds, and some of the cranberries, then added some chopped raw almonds and chopped sour cherries. I loved the combination of sweet and tart flavors paired with the nutty oats, and lovely vanilla flavor.
The changes I made were to health-ify the bars a bit, though I’d imagine they also changed the texture. I swapped out half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour, and decreased the amount of oil from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup. I also added a second egg, and more almonds and dried fruit that originally suggested. I found my bars to be a bit crumbly, but they were also nice and chewy. I added a bit of my newly acquired Taza Chocolate Mexicano Extract in addition to the vanilla extract, which added hint of chocolatey spice. Mmmmm!
Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
adapted from The Culinary Enthusiast
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 chopped chocolate covered almonds
2/3 cup chopped almonds (I used a combination of raw and roasted)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey (I only had 1/3 cup in the kitchen, but I would use the full 1/2 cup next time)
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
1) In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries, cherries, almonds and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
2) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then turn out of pan. I cut mine when they were about 20 minutes out of the oven, and I found with my tweaks they were too soft. They didn’t harden too much, so you can let them cool until set before cutting.
3) You can wrap these up individually in plastic wrap, or keep them in an airtight container for a few days. They make a great breakfast or anytime snack!