Last year we remodeled our kitchen, after 14 years of cupboards that didn’t close, a tile floor that could never be made to look clean, and a daily view of ceramic 3-D cherubs poised in flight on the backsplash. I have nothing against cherubs in general, but cleaning the kitchen gunk out of every nook and cranny of their chubby little bodies got old after a while. The remodel was a big job; it took a long time, but the contractors were really great and everything went smoothly – except for one thing. There was a kitchen drawer that held our favorite, most used recipes, kept in easy reach of the stove-sink-refrigerator triangle. We cleaned out the kitchen before demolition, piling everything (including the recipes) in the dining room for the duration, but when we put the kitchen back together the recipes were missing, and they’ve never been found.
One of the recipes I missed the most was for a chewy granola bar. I could remember some of the ingredients, but not all of them, and every time I tried it something was not quite right. Imagine my excitement when I saw that the Ottolenghi cookbook has a granola bar recipe – and it’s even better than the one I used before!
These bars are moist and crunchy at the same time – nothing like some of the store-bought granola bars that are hard enough to break your teeth. They have very little sugar in them, but are made sweet by the dried fruit pieces. This is my go-to recipe for a great back-to-school snack.
Ottolenghi’s Granola Bars
Prep time: 45 minutes
- 1/3 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
- 1/3 cup dried sour cherries
- ½ cup ground almonds
- 2 cups whole rolled oats
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup Demarara sugar (this is a light brown sugar with a hint of molasses)
- Small bowl of hot water for soaking dried cherries and apricots
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan and line with baking parchment
- Scatter pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 8 minutes in preheated oven.
- Remove pecans from oven and raise temperature of oven to 320 degrees.
- Half fill a small bowl with hot water and soak the apricots and cherries for ten minutes, then drain.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together pecans, ground almonds, cherries, apricots, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oats, cinnamon, and salt.
- Bring butter, honey and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan and cook until light brown – don’t let it get too dark.
- Pour butter, honey and sugar mixture over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Spoon the mixture into the baking pan and pack down tightly with a spoon.
- Bake for 22 minutes, until lightly brown on top. Allow to cool before removing from pan.
- Bars will be soft when removed from the oven but will firm up as it cools.
- They can be individually wrapped when they cool, for an on-the-go snack.
- For people with nut allergies, you can omit the pecans and ground almonds. Use wheatgerm as a replacement for the almond powder.