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?
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!
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The finished product is gold, glistening and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. This prevent the chocolate chips from melting later.
Did someone say chocolate? Combine deep, dark chocolate buttons or large chips; dried, sweet cherries and crunchy pecans in a medium-sized bowl.
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.
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.
Stir the cooled mixture for the stovetop in the oats.
Make a well…
… and place the chocolate, cherry, nut mixture inside it.
Stir, stir, mix, mix.
Line an 8×8, metal pan with parchment paper.
Firmly press the granola mixture into the pan.
Bake for 25 minutes…
… and remove the pan from the oven when the granola bars are the lightest hue of gold and firm to the touch.
Allow the granola bars to cool slightly…
… and then cut into twelve bars or sixteen squares.
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.
Quite loosely adapted from Liz’s recipe at Food for Fun.
Feel free to adapt.
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
- 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!
©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.