Delicious Chewy Granola Bars (gluten free and vegan)

10 Dec

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I have made many a granola bar in my life. Some of them have been too crumbly, some of them have tasted really healthy but not been that delicious, but none of them have been quite as delicious and held together quite as well as these ones. I am pretty delighted to have finally stumbled upon the right combination.

I was on a quest to make the perfect granola bar, because these are a gift for one of my favorite people in the world and I wanted her to really really like them. They are en route, so keep your fingers crossed.

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I found some major inspiration and guidance for these bars from the amazing blog theKitchn and then muddled around to make the rest. I made two batches of these, one with dark chocolate on top and one without. Even though the dark chocolate one would seem like the natural winner given how chocolate obsessed I am, I actually couldn’t decide they are both equally charming.

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2 cups organic rolled oats
1 cup cereal combination (I used crispy rice cereal and cheerios)
1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened, either is fine)
1 cup chopped nuts,(I used pecans and almonds)
1 cup dried fruits (I used unsweetened cranberries, they add a nice tartness)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 heaping tablespoons peanut butter

Chocolate topping
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon peanut butter

Heat the oven to 325°F. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper.

On a baking sheet, spread out the oats, nuts, and coconut. Toast for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, stirring once of twice. Watch carefully, the coconut will burn!

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Pour the rice syrup into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Mix in the vanilla extract, salt, spices, and peanut butter. Heat till warm, stirring. Remove from heat.

Pour toasted oat mixture into a large mixing bowl, add the dried fruit, and cereal. Stir in the rice syrup mixture until the ingredients are completely coated and start to stick together in clumps.

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Pour the mixture into the prepared pans. Use your hands to firmly press the mixture into the pan.

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If you are making the chocolate topped ones, melt chocolate chips with spoonful of peanut butter in the same saucepan you used for the rice syrup over medium heat until mixture is smooth. Pour it over the top of the oat mixture and spread evenly with a spatula.

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Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes or until nicely golden brown.

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Let the bars cool completely in the pan. They will firm up as they cool. Once cooled, cut into 8 bars in the pan with a very sharp knife, then lift the bars by the flaps of parchment to remove from the pan.

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Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. I wrapped each bar individually with plastic wrap to make them easy to take on the go or to send to someone special!

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One Response to “Delicious Chewy Granola Bars (gluten free and vegan)”

  1. hollyjackson December 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Delicious! The combination of oats, p.b., and chocolate is the best. All the other goodies in these bars make them even more of a party. I carried one of these bars in my bag all morning and early afternoon (subjecting it to an over-heated building), and it remained perfectly intact and did not melt. Perfection. Thank you for inspiring me!

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