Over spring break I had unlimited access to my college kitchen. Once school started back up again, I had to return the kitchen key back to its monitor and was once again returned to the culinary dark. Eager for an opportunity to cook or bake, I signed up to make dessert for Mellon Forum. I made a black bean chocolate cake with kahlua almond frosting and some oatmeal cookies inspired by Kashi’s dark chocolate cherry granola bars. I decided to add shredded coconut and slivered almonds to make an “everything but the kitchen sink,” or “cowboy” cookie and in the process realized that the ingredients for the cookies were also the basic ingredients for granola bars.
I looked for a quick and easy recipe, which was actually surprisingly hard to find at first. Most granola bars I came across were made with brown rice syrup, maple syrup, wheat germ, or agave syrup–ingredients that I did not have. What I did have, in place of all the various syrups, was honey. So I picked this granola bar recipe, from Kelsey’s Kitchen, as a base. I added my own “extras” and eyeballed the amount, because I tend to like more dried fruit and nuts in my granola bars. I figured that as long as the mixture stuck together, that was fine. And it was! These bars were amazingly flavorful, hearty, and satisfying. I don’t think I will ever eat a commercial bar and like it now that I’ve made my own. The toasted nuts, oats, and coconut make this satisfyingly golden combination while the dried cherries add a bit of tartness to the crunchy, chewy bar. The depth of the dark chocolate ties the bar together–and makes it seem like you’re eating dessert for breakfast! I guess, if you ate these bars, you would be.
Homemade Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars (makes two 9inx9in squares)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat (or all purpose flour)
3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 stick of butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9 x 9 inch glass baking dishes with parchment paper. Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, dried cherries, slivered almonds, coconut, and chocolate chips together in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl mix butter, honey, and vanilla.
3. Split mixture into baking dishes and use your hands to pat it into the square of the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.