Chewy Seedy Granola Bars

So being nut-free puts limitations on a few things. What’s a sister supposed to eat for a snack on the go? Fruit of the fresh and dried variety gets boring quickly. All I want is a granola bar in my life. Is that too much to ask?

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Apparently, It is a little too much to ask for. Luckily, these granola bars taste better than any granola bars I’ve ever had.. ever. Seriously. Even my nut eating boyfriend thought these were amazing. There will be variations in the near future.
The recipe is adapted from a granola bar recipe I found on the Smitten Kitchen.

For the seed mixture I used:
1/4 C hemp seeds
1/4 C sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 C pumpkin seeds
*ALL raw and unsalted
Dump all of these into a dry skillet over medium heat.

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Toasting took be about 10 minutes, just make sure to stir regularly. No one wants burnt seeds. Ew
You could also do this in the oven since we will be utilizing it soon.
Either way, they’re done when they look like this:

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Set aside to cool.

Chewy Seedy Granola Bars
1 2/3 cup quick oats
1/3 cup oat flour- see note
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Seed mixture– 1/4 cup reserved–see note
2 oz chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, (or more)
6 cardamom pods, crushed (or 1/4 tsp ground cardamom or desired spice)
6 Tblspn unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1/3 C maple syrup
1/3 cup sunflower seed butter (my favorites are Sunbutter or Trader Joes brand)
1Tblspn Water

Preheat oven to 350*F.
Grease an 8×8 pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment creating a sling for easy removal.
In a 2 C measuring cup, combine your cardamom pods or powder with your butter. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir. It may need 10 more seconds. We are doing a kind of mini steep here maximizing that cardamom flavor. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, oat flour, sugar, salt, all but 1/4 C of the nuts and the chocolate.
Into the butter add vanilla, maple syrup and water.
Pour the butter mixture through a sieve into the dry ingredients to catch the cardamom bits.
Before stiring add your sunflower seed butter.
Stir to combine and press into your greased pan using wet hands or a spatula.
Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
*** Let cool COMPLETELY before trying to remove them from the pan to cut. Seriously.. I know its hard but ya gotta wait. They will crumble otherwise.

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Notes: I didn’t use all of my seed mixture because… I snacked on it as I was working. Oops. I’m sure you could use all of it if you wanted to but these were plenty seedy. Also, for the oat flour I just buzzed some oats in my food processor for about 30 seconds.

I know that these have butter in them and you’re all “Megan this is basically a cookie in bar form because of all of the butter” but trust me. You need to make these with butter. You will not regret it. If you must, sub half (not all) out for extra sunbutter or oil.

What add-ins to you prefer in granola bars?
Soft and chewy or crunchy?
I prefer chewy. And chocolate..

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Espresso Cookies with Candied Cacao Nibs

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Coffee and chocolate. Chocolate and coffee. The two go hand in hand.
There are roasted coffee notes in chocolate and and rich chocolate notes in coffee.
I find that we generally use coffee as a dual flavor component with chocolate -mocha- or as way to intensify chocolate. Not often is it the other way around. These cookies focus on the espresso flavor with the chocolate as an undertone.
Since being nut-free, I’ve been brainstorming different ways to create texture. One ingredient I’ve played with are cacao nibs. Wonderfully bitter with a distinct chocolate flavor, and reminiscent of roasted coffee beans without that awful woody texture. Alone I felt the weren’t quite crunchy enough so I candied them. This way, the bitterness is the undertone and the chocolate flavor hits the palate first.

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Candied cacao nibs
.5 cups granulated sugar
2T water
.75-1 cup cacao nibs

In a medium skillet (do NOT use non stick) combine the sugar and water. Bring it to a boil for 1 minute. Toss in the cacao nibs and stir till the sugar crystallizes. Transfer to a Silpat to cool.

Espresso cookies
1 stick of butter, at room temp
1 cup dark brown sugar
3T granulated sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1.75 Cups AP flour
.5t baking powder
.5t baking soda
.5 t salt
2T espresso grind coffee

-Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer on medium speed for two minutes, add the vanilla and the eggs and mix to combine.
-Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together.
-Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix just till combined.
-Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This is important for shaping the dough. Meanwhile preheat oven to 325*F.
-Scoop the cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I used a disher to ensure even cookies but a heaping tablespoon will work as well.
-After they are scooped pick up each ball and dunk the top into the cacao nibs. Thus will work if the dough is chilled. If your dough is warm, generously sprinkle the tops.
-Gently push down the tops of the balls to create thick disks.
Your unbanked cookies should look like this:

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Bake in a 325 oven for 10 minutes flipping the tray half way through. Cool on a rack and enjoy.

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I’m thinking ice cream sandwiches for these bad boys. So delicious.