I have been a bit obsessed with granola this fall. Ever since I discovered protein-packed Siggi's yogurt, I keep making and re-making my granola recipe, tweaking it with different ingredients (depending on my mood) to pile on top of my new breakfast favorite. Most Saturday mornings, you can find me gently shooing my superman out of the kitchen for an hour while I experiment with my latest concoction.These hazelnut, dark cherry and chocolate granola bars came to life through my never-ending granola experiment. If the crumbled variety tasted so great to me, why couldn't I find a way to develop some of my favorite flavor combinations into a tasty hand-held snack? Keith watched, laughed, and even participated in my granola plight. It took me no less than five batches before a winner was crowned.The combination of dark chocolate and dried cherries is always a favorite for us. But the toasted hazelnuts in these granola bars are what steal the show. They taste rich, decadent, and just a bit naughty, even though they are made with mostly good for you ingredients (plus some sugar and butter). The only problem is that they disappear really quickly. With a little help from my superman, even I figured this one out.
A sweet, satisfying and somewhat healthy treat (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 c raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 3/4 c hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 c toasted wheat germ
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 2/3 c honey
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup dried dark cherries
- 1 1/2 3.5 oz bars good dark chocolate (we used Perugina 70% cacao), roughly chopped
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 9 X 13" baking dish with parchment paper (or aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray) and set aside.
- Spread rolled oats, chopped almonds, and chopped hazelnuts onto baking sheet and bake (to toast) for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the toasted mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add in wheat germ and combine.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
- In a small sauce pan, mix together vanilla, brown sugar, honey, butter and salt.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, stirring for about 2 minutes.
- Pour the sugar mixture over the oat/nut mixture and combine well.
- Mix in dried cherries and chocolate pieces
- Pour granola mixture into baking dish, and wetting fingertips, press down granola, evenly distributing it in the dish.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Let cool for 3 hours before cutting into bars or squares