From Bon Appetit 2012
I made these bars around the Winter Solstice holiday of 2012 and they were fabulous!!!!! The first time I made them I didn’t have sunflower seeds, yet I don’t think it affected my final product negatively. Also because the flavor of the flaxseeds was more prominent than I wanted, this second time around I only used 1 tablespoon of flax seeds rather than 2. I also toasted the coconut a little, used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries, and because I love the crunch of nuts, I added 1/4 cup of pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds). For some added flavors I added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla to the liquid ingredients, along with 1 teaspoon of crystalized ginger. These can also be made vegan by replacing honey with agave nectar. To eliminate any confusion regarding my recipe tweaks, I will repeat these changes, highlighting them in bold, as I go into the recipe below……
Cherry-Almond Granola Bars:
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup whole raw almonds
1/4 cup coconut oil plus more
3/4 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped dried tart cherries (second time around I used dried cranberries instead)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup (3 ounces) roasted unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons flaxseeds, toasted (second time around I used 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup pepitas (my addition)
1/2 cup honey (vegan alterations, use agave nectar- maybe even experiment with date or rice syrup)
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (my addition)
1 teaspoon crystalized ginger (my addition)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Coconut oil, unsweetened finely shredded coconut, crystalized ginger, pepitas and flaxseeds can be found at natural foods stores and some supermarkets.
Preheat oven to 400°. Mix oats and almonds on a large heavy rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, until just golden, about 10 minutes. If you want to toast the coconut as I did the second time around, bake almonds and oats for 8 minutes, then add coconut and toast for the remainder 2 minutes or so.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool on sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
Meanwhile, brush a 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal or glass baking dish with coconut oil. Line with parchment paper, allowing it to extend over long sides. Brush paper with coconut oil.
Brush a large bowl generously with oil. Place oat mixture, cherries, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds in bowl.
Bring 1/4 cup oil, honey, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium heavy deep saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 1 minute.
If adding the crystalized ginger, pulverize in a food processor- I use my mini food processor.
Then add the ginger and vanilla to the honey/ brown sugar concoction. Immediately pour over oat mixture in bowl. Using a heatproof spatula, stir until evenly coated. Transfer granola to prepared pan. Lightly press evenly into pan; smooth top. I coated my palms with coconut oil before pressing the mixture into the pan- prevents sticking.
Bake for 10 minutes. Turn pan; continue baking until golden brown with slightly darker edges, about 15 minutes longer.Transfer pan to a wire rack and let granola cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift granola from pan. Cut into 24 bars. DO AHEAD Bars can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Per my usual request, if you make these: let me know what you think, whether or not you added your own tweaks, what they were if you did, and your outcome…….Enjoy!