Granola bars have to be one of the most popular “snack foods” around, Enter any type of food store, and you will find hundreds of options. Even “health” food stores have granola bar aisles, granola bars stashed by the checkouts, and granola bars in trays by the prepared foods. Find me a mom that doesn’t carry at least one granola bar in her purse for emergencies (guilty). What “emergencies” are these anyway? I recently sliced off the top of my finger with a mandoline and sat in the urgent care, with my kids, for over 3 hours and never once thought about eating a granola bar. If that wasn’t an “emergency”, then I don’t know what is.
Let’s get back to what granola bars are good for. They are small, portable, have a wrapper, and take away hunger pains in a pinch. Made correctly, they can be a great stand-in for a sit down breakfast. Given with a side of fruit in the afternoon feels like a special treat to kids. And let’s not even get started on the need for a school snack again. However, most packaged granola bars might as well be candy bars for all of the added sugar and the laundry list of ingredients. There are a few good ones out there, but the price tag usually reflects the quality.
The first time I bought a Core bar, I had no idea how much it was going to cost. It caught my eye because it was kept in the refrigerator aisle next to the milk instead of in the granola bar aisle. Then, when it swiped across the register and clocked in at $4, I very nearly ran to put it back. I am glad I didn’t though, because it was good. Really good. And the ingredients list was amazing. Short, sweet, and nothing I couldn’t pronounce. I knew a remake was happening soon in my kitchen. I played around with the ingredients, and honestly nailed this recipe. I sent it off to one of my closest friends and loyal recipe testers, and she made them that very day and said ” I only have one item of feedback: DOUBLE THIS RECIPE!”. So here it is, doubled for your own good. I promise this is the only granola bar recipe you will ever need again.
The raisins might surprise you at first in this recipe. I know that medjool dates have a strong hold on the granola bar market and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon, but hear me out. There are a million different date bars out there (Larabars, Clif Kit bars, RX bars, etc.) and I love a good date bar every now and then. However, raisins are not as sweet, they are much cheaper, and they bring an entirely different flavor to these bars. Please, give humble raisins a chance!
Let’s talk about the chocolate for a moment. I use Ghirardelli 100% Cacao unsweetened chocolate in these bars. This is baking chocolate, found in the baking aisle, which is strange, I know. If you try a piece plain, you may think it is quite bitter, but mixed in the granola bar it is phenomenal. The chocolate flavor shines through without it adding a whole extra layer of sweetness like chocolate chips do. I honestly love the unsweetened chocolate here and my kids do too, so definitely give it a try.
Perhaps most importantly, these bars do not fall apart. This is worth repeating: they do not fall apart. I have made dozens of granola bar recipes and they always fall apart. The ones that borderline stay together usually have about a cup of honey poured in so those oats couldn’t even move if they wanted to, but I’m not sure this is the solution. I send other homemade granola bars in my daughter’s snack bag to school and she brings it home looking like a crummy mess. These babies stay together cold, at room temperature, though travel, tossed at the bottom of the diaper bag, and everything in between. I can give one to my 3 year old in the car seat and when I turn around at a red light I don’t gasp in horror at the child’s face/hands/cloth car seat cover/car carpet. I’m telling you, they do not fall apart.
Try these, please, and let me know what you think!
- 3 cups rolled oats, divided
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1½ cups Thompson seedless raisins (buy organic raisins!)
- ¼ cup freshly ground flaxseed*
- 1 tsp vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract
- Good pinch of salt
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup coconut butter
- 2 oz chopped 100% cacao baking chocolate bar
- In the bowl of a food processor, place 2 cups of oats, the cashews, raisins, flaxseed, vanilla, salt, water, and coconut butter.
- Turn the food processor on and let it run for a minute or two. The mixture will begin to roll into a ball. You want everything to be well blended but not a smooth paste. There should still be some texture to the mixture.
- Scrape the sides of the food processor and add the remaining 1 cup of oats and the chopped chocolate. Pulse about 10 times to get it mixed in. You still want chunks of chocolate in your mix, though, this is the best part!
- Spoon the mixture into an 8x8 metal cake pan (no need to grease) and with wet fingers, spread it out evenly. Press down firmly so that the bars will be firm.
- Place the pan in the refrigerator for about an hour before slicing into your desired number of bars. I made 18.
- Store the bars in a glass container with a lid in the refrigerator, with a sheet of wax paper between the layers to ensure easy separating.
Small kitchen tip: as you can see by my food processor pictures, I made both almond butter and peanut butter before I made these bars – and I didn’t wash it in between. Let’s be honest, food processors are a pain to wash, so if you aren’t doing double or triple duty with yours every time you get it out, you are wasting precious time!