Cranberry Cashew Granola Bars
December 1, 2011
The holidays are upon us. Anticipating a busy couple of weeks, we have transformed our home into a full-fledged Christmas scene. The tree is up, Santa Lucia is perched on the buffet, and the winter mugs in the morning coffee rotation. While trying to convince the over-eager children that it is too early to start hanging ornaments on the advent calendar (whose idea was it anyway to decorate for Christmas in November?), we have been brainstorming ideas for edible holiday gifts.
I love making edible gifts for just about any occasion. Cooking for others is a way to treat those we appreciate with a delicious treat and share a bit of ourselves in the process. It is best to plan ahead and start cooking early so that the making and giving does not become a stressful burden. Riding the food hangover following Thanksgiving, our first foodie gift to make was Cranberry Cashew Granola Bars.
These granola bars are just sweet enough to count as a treat, but full of wholesome ingredients so they are also right at home in your little one’s school lunch bag. The bars hold together pretty well, better than other granola bars I have tried. Any crumbly bits taste tremendous sprinkled atop yogurt and fruit for breakfast. Feel free to change up the types of nuts and dried fruit, just be sure to use equal quantities. If you are using roasted nuts or toasted wheat germ, do not toast them again in the oven, instead add those items to the bowl with the cranberries.
Cranberry Cashew Granola Bars
adapted from Alton Brown
makes 16 bars
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw cashew halves
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup black sesame seeds (white will work too, but black adds a nice color contrast)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 8 x 8 inch baking dish . Line the bottom with parchment and butter the top of the parchment. Set pan aside.
Pour the oats, cashews, wheat germ, flax seeds, and sesame seeds onto a half sheet pan. Slide pan into the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, until everything begins to brown slightly. Stir halfway through. Once you remove the pan from the oven, reduce the heat to 300 degrees.
While the dry goods are toasting, heat the honey, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a small pan on the stove until the butter and sugar melt. Add the vanilla.
Once toasted, pour the dry goods into a large bowl. Add the cranberries and stir to combine. Pour the melted mixture over the top and stir until the whole mixture is sticky. Scoop out the mixture and press it evenly into the prepared pan.
Place the pan in the 300 degree oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the center is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing. Store bars in an airtight container. Stick the container in the freezer if you want to hang onto these for awhile.
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