Does the smell of fresh oranges remind anyone else of the holidays? Growing up my mom...I mean, Santa, would always top our stocking with a fresh, juicy orange, and we had to eat it before we could open any gifts. That unmistakable citrusy scent takes me directly to Christmas morning, especially when paired with sweet spices like vanilla and cardamom. So when planning recipes for the holidays I knew orange had to be involved... but I wanted it to be something totally unique.
Now, I make your standard, pour-and-go granola at home pretty often - it's cheaper than store bought, super quick and I can make any flavor I want. But when I recently went make a fresh batch I realized I haven't EVER made a granola bar recipe on the blog! That had to change. While regular granola is great for a quick breakfast or snack these are even more on-the-go efficient and better for gifting (food makes the best gifts, right?). Naturally sweetened, filled with healthy ingredients and scented with the elegant combination of vanilla and orange - these granola bars will leave your sweet tooth satisfied anytime. They are the perfect mid-point between crispy and chewy so they will satisfy everyone's preference and if the texture doesn't do it, the chocolate coating certainly will.
This recipe also makes a great base for different flavors - once you get the hang of the method and proportions you can easily omit and sub in the nuts, buckwheat, orange zest and vanilla and mix in your favorite flavors - like coconut, chocolate, cinnamon, etc.
Let me know if you give them a try!
Serves: 12 large granola bars/24 small • Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1.5 cups oats
- 1/4 cut buckwheat groats (or sub more oats)
- 1 cup slivered raw almonds
- 1 cup packed and pitted dates, dried apricots or any combination of the two
- Rounded 1/4 cup almond butter or other neutral nut/seed butter
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
- 1 tsp. fresh orange zest
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (using the seeds from a vanilla bean would be INCREDIBLE here)
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom (optional)
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds
Chocolate Coating (optional)
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
Toppings: sea salt, orange zest, almonds, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, etc.
1. Preheat your oven to 350*F. On a parchment lined sheet pan, mix together the oats, buckwheat and silvered almonds - add to the oven and toast dry for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Check often and toss with a spatula to make sure no over browning occurs.
NOTE: If your almonds are already toasted, add them in after this step.
2. While the mixture is toasting, use a food processor to puree together the dates/apricots until there are no more large chunks of fruit and it forms into a mass.
NOTE: I used a combination of dates and apricots for this recipe. If you do plan to use all apricots or another dried fruit (raisins and figs should work quite well), make sure they are quite moist. If you notice that they are a bit dry you can soak your fruit in boiling water for about an hour and drain before adding to the food processor - that should do the trick.
3. In a small sauce pan on low heat combine the wet ingredients - almond butter, maple syrup and pureed dried fruit. Break up the dried fruit and stir with a whisk or spatula until the entire mixture becomes well blended. Turn off the heat and add orange zest, vanilla, salt and cardamom.
4. When the oat mixture comes out of the oven, let it cool slightly before transferring to a bowl and add in the wet ingredients. Stir until well combined, then add the chia and flax seeds, stirring once more.
5. Re-line your sheet pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with coconut oil spray. Dump the granola mixture onto the pan and press it into a thin, compact, even layer with a spatula or your hands.
TIP: To prevent a huge mess you can dampen your palms and fingers with water or coconut oil when pressing the granola into the pan - it will prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.
6. For a toasted taste and crisp yet chewy texture, add the granola back into the oven for 15 minutes, checking often. When you remove the granola from the oven you want it to be golden brown and slightly darker at the edges.
7. Allow the granola to come to room temperature before moving the entire sheet pan to the freezer for at least a half hour (or overnight) to firm up.
8. When you're ready to slice and coat your granola in chocolate remove the pan from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut the granola into the shape and size of your choosing (I opted for 12 large squares here).
9. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a small sauce pan on low heat or in the microwave in 20 second intervals. Once you have a smooth mixture, coat half or all of each granola square with the hot chocolate and place them on another parchment lined plate or sheet pan.
10. Sprinkle the chocolate coating with toppings if desired and then add the bars back into the freezer to set up for at least 10 minutes.
These bars store well in the fridge or freezer for up to two weeks!
LIMITLESS LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN