Cardamom, Meet Chocolate and Cherries. A Granola Love Story.

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Liz at Food For Fun and my favorite aunt inspired a food-filled day of baking at Curls and Carrots. Last week, Liz made some scrumptious granola bars on her blog. They were so good, she ate the sweet crumbles from the bars with nutty, creamy almond milk for dinner. If that doesn’t get you cooking, what will?

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I referred to Liz’s granola bar magic while developing the perfect recipe for these granola bars. Yes, this recipe has different flavors, new or alternate ingredients, less butter – even the grains are changed. Still, every good cook knows: you must have a fabulous starting point to make a fantastic dish. Thanks, Liz!

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Here is how my wonderful Aunt enters the story. I received a box for Hanukkah from her this week. Ima (me!) and the kids, Snu Magoo and Littlest Guy, were quite excited to receive a package! Inside, artisan dark chocolate buttons, delicious pecans and soft, dried cherries were nestled in white tissue paper.

A cry for granola bars if there ever was one.

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My aunt loves granola bars and requests homemade ones from time-to-time. You know, whenever we chat on the phone. I knew what had to be done – or baked, that is! She was thoughtful enough to include a small, stamped box and subtle, small granola bar hint in the package.

DSC_1959I am honored and deeply touched that my family wants to eat my goodies – even members states away. It is a warm, fuzzy feeling to be able to share food with those you love and treasure. Thank you to my blogging pal Liz for her mouth-watering inspiration – and to Aunty for her kind and delectable gifts.

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My new favorite granola bars are healthy and oh-so-tasty! The cardamom scented, cherry and chocolate bits of bliss ares 100% whole grain, low in fat and filled with nutritious fruit and nuts. Earthy, oat goodness that is salubrious while decadent, rich – and a real treat to eat. Of course, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate found its way into “the mix.”

This is Casa Curls and Carrots. If the kids (and Ima) are not covered in chocolate on a lazy Sunday afternoon, something is very, very wrong.

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I eat a warm bar, fresh from the oven. Then a second. I chew. Warm chocolate oozes over crisp, savory nuts; comforting, soft oats and plump, sweet cherries across my palate. Glistening chocolate is enhanced by echoes of warm ginger, nutmeg and cardamom. The soothing, subtle hint of almond flavor is reminiscent of marzipan, hot and fresh from a bakery in Madrid, Spain.

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I feel deeply satisfied – from my tummy into my soul. I, Ima, confess: it was late lunch of glorious chocolate covered cherries in form light gold granola bars – And a steaming, lightly sweet almond milk latté flecked with tan-colored cinnamon. It was a meal to remember.

Abba (dad) is going to be quite jealous of this mid-time decadence. He had munched on a dry, hospital cafeteria hamburger for lunch. Heart-wrenching! We will save him a few and ship the rest to my generous Aunty a few states over.

Folks, let the baking commence. I am enthused and excited to share this recipe with all of you! This is going to be loads of fun.

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Over low-heat, melt the rich butter (or a dairy-free substitute, if your health dictates). Add the floral honey, hearty maple syrup, maple-scented brown sugar, warm spices and salt. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

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The finished product is gold, glistening and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. This prevent the chocolate chips from melting later.

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Did someone say chocolate? Combine deep, dark chocolate buttons or large chips; dried, sweet cherries and crunchy pecans in a medium-sized bowl.

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Coat the mixture with 1/2 cup white wheat flour (a whole grain flour derived from light-tasting white wheat) or substitute 1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend.

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Place two-cups of quick oats in a large bowl. Not all oats are gluten-free, so if you are gluten-intolerant, check the package’s label.

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Stir the cooled mixture for the stovetop in the oats.

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Make a well…

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… and place the chocolate, cherry, nut mixture inside it.

Stir, stir, mix, mix.

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Line an 8×8, metal pan with parchment paper.

Firmly press the granola mixture into the pan.

Bake for 25 minutes…

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… and remove the pan from the oven when the granola bars are the lightest hue of gold and firm to the touch.

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Allow the granola bars to cool slightly…

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… and then cut into twelve bars or sixteen squares.

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Look at the rich, brown pecans, honeyed cherries and warm, unctuous chocolate…

Intoxicating aromas of almond, cardamom and butter fill the air. You must devour at least one granola bar (or square!) without hesitation.

      Thank you for visiting us at Casa Curls and Carrots. We are elated that you stopped by! For now, take good care.

Warmly,

Shanna

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Print

 
Favorite Granola Bars 

Quite loosely adapted from Liz’s recipe at Food for Fun.
She slightly adapted her own recipe from Entenmann’s Home Baking.

Feel free to adapt.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter or unsalted, dairy-free butter of choice

1/3 cup applesauce

1 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. dried cardamom

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. dried ginger

1/4 tsp. fine salt

3 Tbsp. local honey

3 Tbsp. pure, Grade A Maple Syrup

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 cups quick oats, certified gluten-free, if desired

3/4 cup shelled pecans, roasted and chopped

3/4 cup dried cherries

1 cup large chips or buttons dark chocolate

1/2 cup white wheat flour or gluten-free flour blend

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350•F or 177•C.
  • Heat a medium saucepan over low heat. Melt the butter. Mix in all the ingredients, through the light brown sugar.
  • Stir. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool for about ten minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, coat the pecans, cherries, dark chocolate buttons with the white-wheat flour or gluten-free flour blend.
  • In a large bowl, stir the cooled mixture from the stove top into the quick oats.
  • Incorporate the pecan mixture from the medium bowl into the oat mixture into the large bowl. Stir well.
  • Line a 8×8 metal pan with parchment paper. Use your hands to completely press all of the granola mixture into the pan.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch and the lightest hue of gold.
  • Cool to ensure easy cutting of the bars. It’s really hard to wait, though.
  • Cut into twelve bars or sixteen squares. Enjoy!

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©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.

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67 thoughts on “Cardamom, Meet Chocolate and Cherries. A Granola Love Story.

  1. I love cherries in my granola bars and I have to say, these bars with the chocolate looks oh so delicious Shanna! And cardamom to top it off, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cardamom! This is a second granola bar of yours I just have to make. 🙂

  2. I love it ..I never try homemade bars specially with chocolate and cardamom ..I use cardamom always on my green tea.. I Will add it to my list ..thanks for the frat job 🙂

  3. Oh wow! These look so so good. And your post is so wonderfully written 🙂 Appreciate the shoutouts more than you know. For sure making this one and will report back. Also, I love love love that your aunt sent you (amazing) ingredients so you could ship homemade goodies her way. Cracks me up. What a wonderful family you have. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Liz,
      I appreciate – and am happy that you are here, friend.
      Yes, I have a few good people – related or not – that make every day brighter, happier and better. My aunt is quite amazing – she is consistent, warm and understanding. I am very fortunate and lucky to have people like her.
      I hope you try these – I proudly vouch for them. Thank you, Madame inspiration. It’s all your doing.
      Warmest regards,
      Shanna xx

  4. Yummy! Is the browny, fudgy layer of the granola bar melted chocolate chip? I thought it was chocolate before but the chips don’t seem to have melt much under heat in the oven. I love making bars that are bind with dried fruits like dates too (uses much less sugar and butter).
    -Iz

    1. Hi, Izzy,
      Thank you for stopping by – and leaving a “yummy!” 🙂 I am glad that you stopped by. Yes, there are dark chocolate chips in the recipe. The melt – but of course reform when cooled. Sadly, no chocolate layer. I wouldn’t mind more chocolate – that’s how we roll. HA. 😉 Take good care! Best – Shanna

    1. Hi, Anna,
      Thanks for your kind words! I hope that you have a great week, as well. It is also cold here and snowing. I am not looking forward to pounding the snow and ice off my windows this morning when I drop my oldest off at school.
      Take good care! – Shanna

  5. Oh my goodness, these look amazing! Lots of swim meets this week so I will be making these to act as energy bars for my kids… Thanks, Shanna for a great new recipe!😊

    1. Hi, Linda,
      OH, swim meets – I remember those days! I swam and ran cross-country and track long, long ago. What a great mom you are to make sure your kids are well-fueled. I hope that you enjoy them and let me know your thoughts. Thank you so much for your visit and warm comments.
      Best,
      Shanna

  6. Such a lovely post! I throughly enjoyed reading it and I could easily conjure up the warm, delicious baking smells in your kitchen. Thank you for sharing this recipe, I’m tempted to cheekily send a stamped addressed box too 😉

  7. Wow Shanna. I’ve never made granolas and I’ve always wanted to. Shall have to take a look here when I do 🙂 Did you receive my email? Have a great evening! xx

      1. Hi Shanna, Thats funny, I didn’t receive any email. Guess what? I had my fresh pasta class today 🙂 I didn’t make a single photo because I was up to my shoulders in flour… But I did make some at home. I hope you and your family are fine and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. xx Sofia

    1. Thank you, Celeste! 🙂 These would be quite easy to make vegan if one carefully selected the appropriate ingredients. You know all of the tricks, I am sure. I do appreciate your visit. Happy Thanksgiving, friend. Warmly, Shanna

  8. Cheers for liking my post about Osaka, Shanna!

    Ah, cherries and chocolate I’ve always liked, but cardamom, well India helped get me acquainted with it.

    In fact, Guatemala grows a lot of the stuff, and when I visited this year, one goal was to seek out cardamom-pocked (in Spanish, it’s “el cardamomo”) bars of chocolate. They were around, but from what I gathered, Mennonites started the trend, and now Guatemala exports most of it to India.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by – and leaving such a great note. I am so glad to hear that you are now a cardamom fan. Isn’t it quite addicting, el cardamomo? 🙂 How interesting that it is grown in Guatemala, as I usually find it in Indian and Persian recipes. Take good care! Shanna

    1. Thank you, Kiyo. Let me know if you give them a whirl. I was over on your blog today and had way too much fun. You have been cooking up a beautiful storm of deliciousness. Happy holiday to you and your family. Best – Shanna

  9. Superb! I wanna eat one right now! The recipe seems quite easy to make, i’ll have some problem to find cardamomo here .. but i think i can change a bit the ingredients! Take care Shanna!Cris

      1. Good morning Shanna! Oh, thank you, you’re too kind! But i think in Milan i can find cardamom in some specialized store! This morning i’ll search for expedition of grana padano cheese, say me Good Luck! 🙂

  10. The final photo is so clear, I am actually tempted to just pick and crunch and crunch some more. If only it were possible…sigh. It has all my favourite spices (cardamons, nutmeg and ginger) how great and then my favourite syrups, honey and maple…and to top it all you add nuts (do you know how crazy I am of nuts?) and cherries and chocolate. I only wish I was your neighbour I would just walk in and eat. Thanks so much for sharing, Shanna. My to do list is getting longer and longer I have several recipes to make from here. Have a fab week! Best..LIz

    1. Hi, Liz,
      Well, many thanks and much appreciation. You are making me blush! I am also crazy for cherries and chocolate. If we were neighbors, we would both be five kilos bigger but incredibly happy, hanging out and munching on the other’s goodies! 😉 This really is a great recipe. It also ships well, as I sent a batch to an aunt and it arrived fresh and in tact! Have a great night. You are so sweet!
      Warmest regards,
      Shanna

      1. i will try to send a pix to your fb page, though it might show up in your Other box. Love that we were making them at the same time! Love how they’re packed with goodness 🙂

      2. Oh, great, Liz! I would love to see it. Last night, I didn’t have applesauce, so I used a container of baby pear-apple-banana puree in a squeeze pouch. It was exactly the right measurement and turned out great. I was happily surprised. Thanks for trying them out. I am so honored. 🙂 Best – Shanna

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