I was approached by a representative of Nuts.com to enter their healthy summer snack contest! Woo! People are finding my blog and I get an excuse to play with cool ingredients and make a healthy snack.
I knew I wanted to do some kind of bar, but I am not enough of a baker to create a recipe on my own, so I turned to the best baker I know - Melissa from Smells like Brownies. Together, we came up with a granola bar recipe that included cacao butter, cacao nibs, dates, hazelnuts, unsweetened coconut, almond flour, chia seeds, and oats. Sweetened only with honey, these bars are a powerhouse of energy (they also have great texture and flavor).
To get the most flavor, roast the hazelnuts at 350 for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan at 10 and 15 minutes to ensure that they roast evenly. You can then rub most of the skins off with a towel. If you really want to get rid of all of the skins, you will have to blanch them and the skins before roasting.
You will need a food processor for this recipe, but it comes together very easily. Then you just press into a pan and bake. The bars are a little crumbly, so if you aren't a fan of that - try soaking the chia seeds in a bit of water before adding them.
The real MVP of this recipe is the cacao butter. My goodness, does it smell and taste delicious. It's like vegetable oil (or more like coconut oil in terms of healthiness and uses) that tastes like chocolate - I might be a little obsessed now. You can wrap these individually to travel or to freeze. You can also sub in whatever nuts you like, add more dried fruit - whatever you want!
Oh, yeah - if you make sure to use GF oats, this is totally Gluten Free! And if you replace the honey with something like maple syrup, it's also vegan! Enjoy!
Cacao, Date, and Nut Granola Bars
A Well Dined and Smells Like Brownies Collaboration
makes 16 bars
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted (see above)
1/4 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cup almond flour (unblanched)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cacao butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup oats
1/4 cup cacao nibs
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (if you just roasted your nuts, it will already be at this temp). Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with foil.
In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts and dates to finely chop.
Add the almond flour, coconut, chia, salt, and baking soda and pulse once or twice, just to combine.
Add the cacao butter, honey, and vanilla and pulse until evenly incorporated.
Add the oats and cacao nibs and pulse once or twice, just to combine.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 15-20 minutes, checking every minute after 15, until golden but not too dry at the edges.
Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then use the foil to carefully lift onto a cutting board and cool for another 10 minutes. Cut in half one direction, and into eighths the other - resulting in 16 bars.
Store in an airtight container, or wrap individually and freeze.
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