Granola Squares

Granola Squares

Granola Squares

So, yeah, that are lots of granola bar recipes out there on the internet. And, yes, most of them are probably vegan. But, I chose to make these granola squares because of the variety of textures and flavors they offered. I changed up the fruit and seeds recommended in the original recipe to use what I had in my cupboard, which is another bonus. Also, to satisfy my decadent tastebuds, I added mini chocolate chips. That was a no-brainer.

The recipe was already vegan, but you do have to be aware that many granola recipes contain honey which makes them non-vegan. I made a minor high altitude adjustment by adding almond butter to keep them moist. Most of my changes were purely a matter of taste, something I consider important nonetheless.

Granola Squares based on Chewy Granola Bars with Walnuts and Cranberries

1.5 cups walnuts
2.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried mixed berries
1 cup packed organic brown sugar, light or dark
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus extra to coat the foil sling
2 TBS almond butter
3 TBS water
1.5 cups puffed brown rice cereal
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Make a foil sling for a 13 x 9” pan by folding 2 long sheets of foil; the first sheet should be 13” wide and second sheet should be 9” wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan. Push foil into corners and up the sides of the pan, smoothing the foil flush to pan. Lightly coat the foil with vegetable oil.

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped, for 8 to 10 pulses. Spread walnuts, oats, and pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through toasting. When done, set aside to cool and reduce oven temperature to 300F.

While oat mixture is toasting, process dried berries, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor for 10 seconds. Run processor again, adding oil, almond butter, and water. Continue to process until a homogeneous paste forms, about 1 minute longer.

Transfer paste to a large bowl. Add oat mixture to bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until well coated. Add cereal and chocolate chips and stir gently until ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Press and smooth with the bottom of a measuring cup, especially at the edges, until granola is level and compact.

foil sling with granola

foil sling with granola

Bake granola until just beginning to brown around edges, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour. Using foil sling, lift granola out of pan. Place on wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Discard foil and transfer granola to a cutting board to cut it into squares. Granola squares can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

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Nanaimo Bites

nanaimo bitesWhile exploring gluten-free recipes, I came across Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook. The listing of gluten-free grains sounded mysterious and exciting. I especially liked the idea of cooking with amaranth because years ago I enjoyed a cereal with that grain in flaked form. The book mentioned popping amaranth like popcorn, and I was hooked.

There were many tasty sounding recipes, but the one that caught my eye was a take on the Canadian Nanaimo bar. It had chocolate; it had almond butter; it had popped amaranth. But what it didn’t have was the need to turn on an oven. Therefore, technically, the recipe was not baked. I mulled over whether or not it fell within the realm of this blog. Then I decided I was trying a gluten-free treat so I deserved to stretch the rules.

So, this has no high altitude changes because it’s not a baked treat. It is also based on a recipe that is vegan so there are no necessary substitutions. I made a couple of minor tweaks based on my tastes leaving the recipe with few changes. But it was fun and it is decadent. And my gluten-free friends can eat it.

Nanaimo Bites adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook
Bottom Layer
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups popped amaranth (see instructions below)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Middle Layer
1 cup almond butter
1/4 cup almond milk
1 TBS coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Top Layer
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp coconut oil
Pop amaranth by heating a large dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 TBS amaranth and vigorously shake pan for 12-18 seconds or until seeds have popped (they should begin to pop within 1 to 2 seconds after being added to pan); watch closely, as the amaranth will burn quickly once it has finished popping. Immediately transfer popped seeds to a medium bowl to cool. Continue popping until desired amount is reached.
Prepare an 8×8” baking pan by lining it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
Bottom Layer: In a medium saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and maple syrup until blended and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Stir in popped amaranth and chopped nuts until well coated. Press firmly into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
Middle Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt together almond butter, almond milk, coconut oil, and vanilla. Stir until smooth and spreadable. Spread over chilled bottom layer. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.
Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil, stirring until melted and smooth. Spread over chilled middle layer. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, or until chocolate is set.
Using parchment paper overhang, lift from pan and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Until next time, happy baking?