Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chocolate Olive Oil Granola Bars

One of the things I immediately stopped buying long ago after figuring out how awesomely easy and wonderfully delicious they are to make at home are granola bars.

I'm about to give store-bought bars a run for their money...

I'm giving you olive oil and dark chocolate today - a wildly unexpected combination that works outrageously well. It's the slight tang and fruitiness of olive oil that makes it marry so well with chocolate - DARK chocolate that is. Milk chocolate doesn't hold a candle here.

Chocolate is so distracting and a total attention hog, but let's not disregard the almonds and seeds. Sesame seeds in particular provide a nice savoury note.

There's dark chocolate all up in these oats, nuts and seeds. But lucky for you there's no need to actually melt chocolate and dirty another bowl. Although, this is usually my excuse to throw in a bit (a lot?) extra so I can have that precious moment with the bowl at the end. This moment may or may not involve my head in the bowl and chocolate all over my face.

I get the chocolate coated all over the mixture by stirring through chopped chocolate or chips before dumping the lot into the baking pan and placing it in the oven for 5 minutes to melt. After 5 minutes I pull it from the oven and stir it around directly in the pan so that the melted pieces really get to know the rest.

The most important step is the one that follows - make sure you really press and pack the oats down as tight as you can to make a nice compact slab. This will prevent the bars from crumbling too much when you slice them.

One dirty bowl saved. One embarrassing chocolate-coated Christina avoided.

Call on some will power and let these babies cool completely. They will crumble a tad when you cut them. No worries. It's natural. It's a small price to pay for only 2 tablespoons - that's 30 ml or 6 measly teaspoons - of oil for this whole recipe.

To get the cleanest slices possible, you can chill the slab in the fridge for 15 minutes and then slice with a very sharp knife. If you try to slice them warm, I guarantee you'll have granola... no bars (equally as delicious though!).

Chocolate Olive Oil Granola Bars
Makes about 15 bars

1 ½ cups (150 g) large flake old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup (50 g) quick oats
½ cup (45 g) flaked almonds
¼ cup (40 g) pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp (20 g) sunflower seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 large egg white
¼ tsp sea salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup (100 g) chopped dark chocolate or best quality chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together both oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg white, salt, honey and olive oil until well blended. Pour into oat mixture and stir until well combined and the oats are completely coated with the wet mixture. Stir in chocolate.

Spread mixture into prepared pan and bake for 5 minutes, just until the chocolate melts. Remove from oven and stir the mixture around to let the chocolate coat all of the oats and then press very firmly and evenly into the pan. Return to oven and continue to bake until it feels dry, about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and press down on the mixture to compact it once more while warm. Let cool completely before slicing or it will just turn into rubble. Slice into whatever size you'd like, but I make 3 rows of 5 bars to give me fifteen 2.5x1.5-inch bars.

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