Chewy Cherry Chocolate Granola Bars
Being flexible. It’s a whole new thing I’m learning, under the tutelage of a squirmy eight-pound human.
Yes, some days I’m a bit bleary-eyed – but it’s actually been wonderfully liberating to throw organization, productivity and scheduling out the window. Between the 3 am chow time, and the inevitable hunger cries exactly when we were about to load into the car/make dinner/write a blog post/eat dinner/take a shower/finish an email, little peanut has taught me to go with the flow, in a whole new way.
Baby’s tummy (with the circumference of a walnut) empties quickly and when he wants milk, he wants milk now! As soon as his bum is wet, he wants a to have been changed five minutes ago! There’s just no point in fighting it. He doesn’t care that it’s an ungodly hour, or that I was otherwise engaged. The only choice for happiness is to enjoy the moment, smother him in kisses, and roll with the schedule he dictates. In doing so, I feel surprisingly relaxed. It’s nice.
He’s also taught me the necessity of stashing snacks in pockets, sofa-cracks and bedside tables, because he seems to just know when I was about to make a meal, and find himself hungry at that moment. Enter Cherry Chocolate Granola Bars…
I finally perfected the super-chewy homemade granola bar! Here are the secrets:
First, you pulse some of the oats to a powder before you mix everything together. Second, the right ratio of liquid sweetener (honey or corn syrup) is necessary, and third, you must let the bars cool completely in the pan rather than transferring them to a cooling rack right away.
Layer the bars between sheets of waxed paper in an air-tight container and store up to a week, or freeze them individually wrapped and they’ll last for months – pop them directly into your lunch box and they’ll be thawed by snack time.
- 2 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats (large flake – not quick or instant)
- 1 cup whole almonds
- 1/3 cup honey or corn syrup
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
- 2/3 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
- ½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey or corn syrup, brown sugar, salt and vegetable oil. Cook, stirring, until brown sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes). Transfer syrup to a large mixing bowl, stir in vanilla and almond extracts and cool to room temperature (if not properly cooled, chocolate will melt…)
In a food processor, place ½ cup large flake oats and pulse to a flour consistency. Add to the mixing bowl with the syrup, along with the remaining 2 cups large flake oats, almonds, cherries and chocolate. Use your hands, moistened with water, to combine all the ingredients well. Press evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
Allow granola bars to cool completely in the pan, set on top of a wire cooling rack. Cut lengthwise into 6 strips, and then cut each strip in half to yield 12 bars.