Sunday, November 14, 2010

Decadently Chewy Granola Bars

Yes, that's right.  I'm going to call these decadent, even though they are also healthy.  I haven't had a lot of luck in the past with granola bar recipes, with the main problem being how they tend to fall apart right away, crumbling sadly into a chunky granola the moment I remove them from the pan.  Still delicious?  Yes - but not the point!  What I have wanted for so long is a healthy and convenient gluten-free snack on-the-go.  True, it's something that has become commercially easier to find in recent years, but the store-bought gluten-free granola bars leave a lot to be desired, in my opinion, between the slightly-off texture and more-than-slightly off taste, often evocative of cardboard.

These don't resemble cardboard.  Not even a little bit.  They're chewy, full of flavor, and you can tailor them to whatever ingredients you want and/or have on hand.  Don't have coconut?  No problem!  Add more oats or almond meal.  Don't like cranberries?  Add whatever fruit you DO like.  As long as you keep the basic ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredient roughly the same, it shouldn't matter what you substitute here.  (Just try to avoid super absorbent flours like coconut flour without adjusting the liquid ingredients, too).  Get ready to snack!

Decadently Chewy Granola Bars

1 ¼ cups gluten-free oats (remove 1/3 cup to grind into oat flour)
½ cup buckwheat flakes (or substitute more oats if you don't have buckwheat flakes)
½ - ¾ cup sugar (I used a little less than 2/3 cup, but follow your own taste)
1 cup almond meal*
½ cup dried cranberries (or any other dried fruit)
½ cup coconut flakes**
1/3 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame, and linseed)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup + 2 tsp. honey, agave, or maple syrup (I used half honey/half agave, but you can use all of one or the other)
¼ cup Sunbutter***
3 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
3 tbsp. applesauce (I used my homemade applesauce)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp. water

*You can substitute another kind of nut meal, like hazelnut meal.
**If you hate coconut, substitute more almond meal or more fruit/nuts
***You can substitute any other kind of nutbutter here.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper and coat with non-stick spray. (Warning: if you use wax paper, it will probably stick to your baked granola bars, so beware!)

Measure out the 1 1/4 cups oats first, and then remove 1/3 cup of them and grind them into oat flour (you can use your coffee grinder - I did!).  Place the oats and oat flour in a large bowl, and then add the rest of the dry ingredients, including the cinnamon and salt.  If you don't like cranberries and almond flour, don't worry - just add your own favorite nuts/seeds/dried fruits in the same amounts and you will be fine.  

Place the Sunbutter, honey/agave nectar, Earth Balance, applesauce, vanilla, and water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning, and when it comes to a simmer and everything has melted together, remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients.  Mix well until all dry ingredients have been moistened.

Pour into the prepared pan and, using a spoon or your fingers, press down firmly and evenly into the pan.  Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges and top are browned.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting (if you can stand to wait that long).  When they are completely cooled, place them in the fridge for another hour or so before cutting them so they'll stick together even better.

Remove from fridge and cut into whatever shape your heart desires.  I cut mine into thirds, and then into sixths the other way, for slightly smaller bars.  Store in an airtight container and return to the fridge for maximum shelf life.


Cindy said...

These look delicious!

Cindy/Wheatless Foodie

Claire Berman said...

Hi Cindy! They're pretty tasty. I just gave some to some gluten-eating folks and they said they were fantastic :) Thanks for your comment and I hope you enjoy them too!

Tracey said...

Wow, these were beyond delicious, Claire! Great post; thanks:)

S2MNVW said...

These turned out great, instead of buckwheat flakes I used oat bran & instead of crasins I used dried cherries. Oh, and creamy peanut butter instead of sunbutter. Made for my girls ages: 3 & 1...with food intolerances, it's so nice that I know exactly what is in these! Thank-you!!!!!

Claire Berman said...

Hi S2MNVW, thanks for your comment! I love love these, and I'm so glad that they worked out for you with the substitutions you made. It is a beautiful thing to know every ingredient that is in a snack, isn't it? :)