It’s unfortunately been awhile since John and I have gone on a long camping trip. Lately, our travels follow John’s marathon schedules. But when we went on week-long road trips, heavy on the camping and hiking, I used to hit the bulk section of natural food stores and get ingredients to make my own trail mixes. I liked toasting my own granola and mixing in what I thought was the ideal balance of salty and sweet elements, something I could never find in commercially made trail mixes.
These granola bars let me revisit those homemade granola days. I made these as a study aid for a friend who was studying for the February bar, with the goal that these could be counted on to be re-energizing, comforting in its touch of chocolate sweetness, and a satisfying but healthy snack to deter distracting stomach rumbles. With a mix of toasted almonds and coconut, these bars were warm and nutty in flavor and a sprinkle of orange zest added a bright citrus flavor that balanced out the sweetness from the coconut and chocolate. Dried cherries spiked these bars with the occasional pop of tartness. These bars set up thickly, but with plenty of crunch thanks to the granola and puffed rice cereal and slight chew from the honey. Try these out, whether you’re studying for a huge exam, going on a hike, or just want something happy for a breakfast at your desk.
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1.5 cups sliced almonds
- 3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- zest of half a large orange
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1/2 cup puffed rice cereal (rice crispies)
- 5 oz dried cherries
- 1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, mix together the oats, almonds, and coconut. Toast the mixture in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even toasting. Your house will smell incredible during this process!
While the granola mix is toasting, combine the butter, honey and brown sugar in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan and melt over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn off the heat. Stirr in the vanilla.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Pour the granola mix into a large bowl. Add the cinnamon, orange zest, salt, wheat germ, puffed rice, and dried cherries. Pour the honey mixture over all of this and mix together, preferably with your hands if cool enough to touch. Line an 11 x 7 baking dish with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment paper and sides of the dish with cooking spray. Press the mixture into the baking dish until flat and uniform and bake for 25 minutes.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in short 20 second bursts, stirring between heating zaps until chocolate melted and runny. Do not try to take a short cut by heating chocolate on high for a minute or so as the chocolate can burn instead of melt. With a spoon, drizzle the chocolate in zig zag lines all over the granola bars. Cool until chocolate hardens, then cut into bars of whatever size you wish. Yields 8-10 bars.