Sweet & Salty Cherry Almond Bars (Chewy too!)

I’ve been experimenting with various granola bar recipes in order to save some money!  The ingredients in something like a Nature Valley bar are a no go and we really like the Cascadia Farms Granola Bars but at $6.19 for 5 that’s $1.24 per bar!  However, most of my attempts were either too crumbly, too hard, or too soft and melty.  What magic was at work with the retail bars??

Then I came across this great recipe from Betsy at The Green Phone Booth called Chewy (Not Crumbly) Granola Bars.  This got me on the right track but I still felt they were a bit sweet and soft.  After much tweaking (and credit to Betsy) I finally made the MOST DELICIOUS bar ever.  It is quite literally, IMHO, better than anything I’ve bought from a store.

Sweet & Salty Cherry Almond Bars

[box type=”download”] View printable version here.[/box]

Ingredients:

4 cups organic rolled oats – (I love Bob’s Red Mill Organic Thick Cut because they really stay whole.)
2 cups raw slivered almonds
2/3 cup organic unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup organic cold-pressed oil – (I used Sunflower Oil buy you could choose your favorite mild-flavored oil.  I’d avoid coconut oil in this step because you want to really coat the oats.)
2 cups dried cherries – (look for unsweetened and, although cherries are rarely dried with sulfur dioxide (more often used in apricots, apples, golden raisins, and peaches), check to make sure they are sun or wind dried as sulfur dioxide is linked to asthma and can be allergenic.)
1/2 cup organic cold-pressed oil – (I once again used Sunflower oil but this is a place you could also use Coconut oil for the health benefits.)

raw, unfiltered honey is thick and opaque

1 cup raw unfiltered honey – (I think this is what made mine less soft and melty and less sweet.  Unfiltered honey is opaque and the consistency of peanut butter and much less sweet because it still has wax and pollen in it)
2/3 cup almond butter – (make your own in a food processor and save money!)
2 Tbls Organic Vanilla
Kosher salt or flake sea salt

Instructions:

Prepare 9×13 cake pan with butter.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine oats, coconut, and almonds in large bowl with 1/2 cup of oil to coat.  Spread on a sheet pan and bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. After toasting return to large bowl.

Combine second 1/2 cup of oil, honey, and almond butter in a sauce pan and heat slowly until just boiling whisking frequently (I heat oil and honey and then add the almond butter to make whisking easier).  Prior to boiling but after the honey and almond butter liquefy add vanilla.

Pour melted mixture over oats mixture and fold to coat evenly (also, put water in that sauce pan ASAP or it will be a sticky mess to clean!).  Immediately transfer to cake pan and use spatula to press into corners.  Use another pan or other flat object to press granola into pan.  You don’t want it to be loosely packed and then fall apart.  To do this place parchment or wax paper over granola and use smaller pan to press evenly.  This worked really well for me with a loaf pan as in the pic below:

use wax paper and a smaller pan to press granola

Sprinkle kosher salt on top sparingly – think a few grains per bite – if you think adding salt is weird remember that salt enhances sweet flavor and it makes an irresistible combo on the tongue.

Place the pan in the refrigerator to set for about 2 hours then set at room temperature before cutting.

Cut into squares or rectangles.  Individually wrap in wax paper for easy pick up and go!

 

I hope you love this as much as I did!  I roughly figure this is about $.34 per bar saving almost a dollar!

Are you imagining the possibilities?  I’m thinking dried cranberries and dark chocolate; peanut butter; dried apricots and pecans; chocolate and candied orange peel.  Drool!

Please let me know if you try these out!

[box type=”download”] View printable version here.[/box]

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Sweet & Salty Cherry Almond Bars (Chewy too!)

  1. These look amazing! There are no organic dried (or fresh) cherries to be found here, and almond butter is about $15 for a teensy jar, so I'm going to wait until we get moved in a few weeks. This is going to be one of the first snacks I try when I arrive in the land of plenty/mainland US 😉
    My recent post Keeping it Real

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    • Almond butter is outrageous but it is super easy to make if you have a food processor and access to whole almonds. Might make it cheaper. And, yes, we are lucky to have so much at our disposal!

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