I know. The world doesn’t need another recipe for granola bars. But I’m here to throw out some ideas and variations to the ones that you normally make, maybe change things up a bit? Specifically this part: dates. Dates are a common enough addition to granola bars for sweetness, but I find that unless you use those plump, juicy medjool ones, it doesn’t add enough moisture to bind the bars. Also, medjool are crazy expensive where I live. When I do find some and allow a little splurge, I’m always disappointed with their freshness. I’ve used local Indian dates here and honestly can’t tell the difference.
The trick to a good granola bar is toasting the nuts and seeds. I like to take it right to the edge to extract maximum flavour and nuttiness. The second and other important part is soaking the dates in hot water. I’ve found that our local Indian dates are too firm to blend as is. Soaking them for about ten minutes makes sure they blend up to a nice purée without too much resistance.
The rest is a blank slate, really. What nuts, seeds and other elements you add is largely based on personal preference so use whatever you like or have on hand. Don’t want to use honey? Maple or golden syrup are great substitutes, albeit not the healthiest ones. I don’t think I’ve ever made granola the same way twice: sometimes it’s more restrained with just almonds and mixed seeds, and other times it’s fancied up with an assortment of dried fruits.
This is not a recipe that requires calculation and precision in any way, shape or form: I usually wing the texture and consistency based on how it feels when I’m mixing it in: too wet? More nuts and seeds. Too dry? More honey/date purée. The recipe below is a generously loose adaptation, so feel free to tweak as you go. In fact, I would highly recommend you do.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup almonds roughly chopped (or slivered almonds)
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ cup dried blueberries or cranberries roughly chopped
- ½ cup dates
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 12 inch baking tray with parchment or aluminium foil.
- Add dates to a bowl and pour over ⅓ cup of boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes until softened. Blend to a smooth purée with the water and set aside.
- Toss oats, almonds and seeds on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 12 – 15 mins, stirring occasionally until nicely toasted and browned. Add to a large bowl.
- Reduce the temperature to 150 C.
- Add dried blueberries and salt to the toasted oats, almonds and seeds. Toss to combine. Pour over the date purée and honey and stir well until fully incorporated.
- Tip into the lined baking tray and press down firmly with your fingers. You want to pack them down tightly so they don’t fall apart whilst slicing.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden-brown. Cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.
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