Milk Chocolate “Granola” Bars

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Yesterday while at the gym I watched an episode of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa. She made several dishes, a couple of which inspired me to replicate later that day. As I watched her whip up her batch of granola bars, I took mental notes of items that would have to be omitted. As much as I try, the kids (teens) just don’t dig dried fruit of any kind and most nuts. Shredded coconut, nope. Dried apricots, um…no. Dried cherries, love them myself, but no go. Slivered almonds, I wish (full of calcium).

So what did I pick up at the grocery later that day? Wheat germ. At least it’s a healthy and somewhat undetectable ingredient that can be masked with some sugar and butter. Did I mention that they don’t like oats? The end result was delicious, but it would be misleading to call them granola bars, hence the quotation marks.

Milk Chocolate “Granola” Bars

Pulverizing the oats in the food processor for a couple of turns makes them less distinguishable. Additions? Only add 1/2 cup of either chopped dried fruit or nuts so that the integrity of the recipe remains.

1/2 cup dry roasted almonds

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup agave syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Prepare a square 9 by 9-inch pan by greasing sides and lining bottom with parchment paper. Lightly grease top of parchment.

2. Place almonds in a food processor and process just until almonds are chopped. Add oats and pulse a few times until cut quite a bit.

3. Place almond-oat mixture on a baking pan, spreading mixture out so that the surface is covered, and toast in a 300° oven for about 10 minutes, or until mixture becomes fragrant.

4. In the meantime, combine butter, syrup, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; set aside to cool a bit.

5. When almond-oat mixture is toasted, remove from oven and pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in wheat germ and salt until well blended. Add chocolate chips and combine. Pour syrup over mixture and stir until well incorporated and chocolate has melted. Spread evenly in prepared pan and bake until set, about 20 minutes.

6. When completely cooled, place a cutting board on top of pan and invert both so that the board is on the bottom. Remove the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Cut bars into squares and wrap individually.

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