I started a recipe journal several years ago. It's more of a sketchbook than a journal though since most of it is written in code: ingredients list, notes, scratch outs, rewrites, coffee stains, musings. Months go by without pulling it off the kitchen shelf, until the day comes along when I need to make granola bars, stat as the boxed variety just won't do.
I tested a cookie-like bar and wrote something about those cherry almond bars. Yep. Here they are. Butter toasted oats, almonds, and cherries dunked in a maple brown sugar caramel-y syrup. The little one approves and can't wait to get his face into these. A few more months I tell him, he has to work the pancake angle first, I say. Not a bad place to be, not at all.
Cherry-Almond Granola Bars
makes 16 square bars
1/4 cup vegan butter
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Leave a 1-inch overhang around the sides of the pan to help remove the granola bars.
Melt the vegan butter in a wide sturdy-bottomed pot or cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium, add the oats, and cook for 6 minutes or so, stirring frequently. The oats should be evenly toasted with a nice golden brown hue to them.
Empty the toasted oats into a large mixing bowl. Wipe down the pot or skillet and set aside to use again for the syrup. Add 1/2 cup of flaxseed meal and the cinnamon to the bowl. Mix the dried cherries and toasted almonds with the remaining tablespoon of flaxseed meal and chop finely (the flaxseed meal prevents the cherries from clinging to the knife as you chop). Scrape them into to the oat mixture.
Pour the maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt into the reserved pot. Stir to combine then cook the syrup over medium heat until gently boiling throughout, about 6 minutes.
Add the cooked syrup to the oat mixture, using a spatula to scrape out all the syrup from the pot, and stir well. Be sure to coat all the oats with syrup.
Turn the oat mixture out into the prepared pan. Add a bit of butter to your hands and press the oats evenly into the pan to form the bars.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The bars should have a shiny coating with the edges slightly darker than the middle. Remove from the oven and cool or 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container.
(Inspired by Kim Boyce's Granola Bars from "Good to the Grain".)