Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smitten with chocolate and cherries

I'm on a quest to make a yummy, healthy, homemade granola bar. There are lots of recipes out there. Some require baking, some are no-bake bars. Some are easy, some are complicated. Some are healthy, some are not. Some are super-healthy but turn crumble into granola when you try to cut them into bars. So. Given the wide range of recipes, ingredients, and techniques (who knew granola bars caused so much controversy?!), I thought I'd try an easy recipe from a reputable source. The ingredients reminded me of a cookie recipe, so it's not the healthiest. But I knew they'd be easy to make in bar form.

Without further ado, I present Chocolate, Walnut, Cherry Granola Bars. I adapted this recipe from the author of Smitten Kitchen. She adapted her recipe from King Arthur flour.

(makes 16 bars)

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ x 12″ x 2″ pan.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, peanut butter, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.

Bake the bars for 30 to 35 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

1. Dry ingredients

2. Wet ingredients

3. Kitchen Aid stand mixer!

4. Letting the mixer do the work

5. Plop

6. Press

7. Cut and eat!

These are yummy- even Ross agrees! However, they're very cookie-like. 6 Tbs. is a lot of butter! And do you really need honey AND sugar? But I didn't want to mess with proportions too much lest I end up with the aforementioned granola instead of bars. But you can count on hearing about these again in a month or so when I try to make this recipe a little healthier. (Well, you'll hear about it if it's successful and edible). For now, enjoy! And let me know if you have a good granola bar recipe of your own. I'll be making granola bars a lot in the next few months until I find the perfect recipe... bar fight!

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