Very Berry Chewy Granola Bars
These Very Berry Chewy Granola Bars are great for snacking. They’re loaded with toasty oats, cashews, and an assortment of dried berries.
Let’s talk about horror films for a moment, shall we?
Love ’em or hate ’em, they sure are fun to watch. They’re not exactly what I call scary. Yeah, I tend to jump in fright when the unexpected rat comes peeling around the corner or the “bad guy” creeps out of the pitch-black shadow unannounced, accidentally tripping over a rusty metal bucket while wielding a bloody axe.
The anticipation of what’s to come kills me more than actual fear. I know it’s going to happen. It has to! It’s a horror film, and horror films pride themselves on catching you off guard. Since I don’t know when the action is going to take place, I sit patiently on the couch or in the theater with my butt cheeks clenched waiting for it to unfold. That damn boo-factor gets me every time.
Horror films are essentially all the same: blood, gore, murder, squealing women, cocky men folk, and a hero or heroine. That’s it. If it’s not an angry guy running around with a chainsaw, it’s a guy with a hook for a hand. Same premise, different bad guy.
Squirrel and I watched the hundredth Texas Chainsaw Massacre the other night. Cracks me up every time. I’m not a good movie partner when it comes to horror films. I’m usually cracking up laughing at the slaughter of some squealing blonde (seriously, run!) or adding my own commentary, “Pah-lease, is that bloody axe all you got?” I can ruin a horror film.
While I’m poking fun at the film, I like to snack. Hey, it takes a lot out on a gal. I have to replenish my nutrients so I can keep up on the witty commentary.
These Very Berry Chewy Granola Bars are the way to go.
I’ve made several types of granola in the past, but never a granola bar. These granola bars were inspired by The Back in the Day Bakery cookbook. Whew, is there a lot of good stuff in that book. Healthy? No. Delicious? Heck yes! Their version of the granola bar looked amazing, but twelve tablespoons of butter was far to much…even for me.
I decided to create a healthier version. I used a ton of good-for-you ingredients: cashews, dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and even pecan flour. Don’t get nervous. Pecan flour is just ground up pecans. The flavor that the pecan flour adds to granola is off the charts delicious. Imagine a toasted pecan. Got it? Now, imagine that same toasted pecan, but now imagine its toasty flavor throughout an entire pan of granola. I know, right?
I used a mixture of butter, coconut oil, and honey to bind the bars. Mmm, they’re buttery, toasty, and ooey-gooey sweet.
You want the parchment to hang over two opposite sides of the pan. This helps make transferring the granola from the pan to the wire rack a cinch. If the granola sticks to the pan slightly, run a butter knife along the edges to loosen it.
I think Squirrel enjoyed the granola, too. When I was munching on a mouthful of granola, there was less commentary and joke cracking. In other words, he could actually enjoy the film.
Very Berry Granola Bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup pecan flour (see note)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sided of a 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment, allowing the parchment to overhang on two opposite sides.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, pecan flour, cinnamon, salt, cashews, and dried berries.
In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, butter, vanilla extract, and honey. Add to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
Press the granola mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Fold the parchment overhang onto the granola and press firmly. Unfold the parchment before placing in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Lift the sides of the parchment and transfer the granola to a wire rack to cool completely.
When the granola is completely cooled, remove from the parchment and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares. Layer the squares between wax paper in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
***Note: To make pecan flour, add pecans to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a fine crumb.