Can you believe I’ve barely touched an eggplant or more than a few ears of corn in the kitchen this Summer? I picked up one giant zucchini at the farmers market last weekend, which is currently sitting rather impatiently on the counter, waiting for a yet-to-be-determined recipe to befall it. Berries and stone fruit, I took advantage of, but most of the season’s last, best offerings have been noticeably absent from my cooking repertoire (and these pages) lately.
The seasons are skipping ahead of my best intentions. The air crisper, cooler. PSL’s are back, earlier than ever, and I’m starting to think about weekend apple picking excursions up north.
My fall baking actually began without turning on the oven, in the form of these no bake dark chocolate granola bars. I’ve been meaning to work chocolate into granola bars for some time now, and imagined they would end up as a variation of this tried-and-true baked granola.
Instead, after some late-night Pinterest perusal, I was inspired by this recipe to go the no-bake, vegan, no butter/oil, little refined sugar, gluten-free route… And I promise you they aren’t terrible.
In fact, these granola bars – despite being healthier than your average granola – taste almost like dessert. They’re rich and sweet and super chocolatey. They’re chewy with little crispy bits and… did I mention they can be made in about 15 minutes?
The best part is, these granola bars set up in the refrigerator rather than via baking. In a few weeks, the oven will be going non-stop with true fall baking – comforting desserts, roasted vegetables and braised meats – but for the moment, it’s nice to keep the oven off, as I play catch up, squeezing in as many Summer recipes as I can into these last, lovely, transitional days of the season.
- 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or sub honey for non-vegan version)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 1–1/2 cups quick-cooking/instant oats
- 1–1/2 cups crispy rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs*
- Optional: 1 cup (8 oz) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.
- In a medium sauce pot, heat the almond butter, brown rice syrup and maple syrup over medium-low heat, stirring with a heat-proof spatula until combined. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt, and stir until smooth.
- Meanwhile, combine the oats, rice cereal, coconut and cacao nibs in a mixing bowl. When the almond butter mixture is completely melted, remove the pot from the heat and add the dry ingredients. Gently stir to combine. At first it will seem like there isn’t enough liquid – keep mixing until completely combined.
- Pour the granola into the prepared pan, and use a spatula to firmly pack into an even layer. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate until the bars have set up, about 2 hours.
- Remove from the pan and peel away the foil. Place on a cutting board, and use a very sharp chef’s knife to slice into bars.
- Optional: Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on medium-power for 1 minute. Stir, then microwave again for another 30 seconds. Stir. Continue in 30 second increments, as required, until the chocolate is smooth and completely melted. Pour into a piping bag, or use a spoon, to lightly drizzle the melted chocolate over the granola bars. Let cool until hardened, about 30 minutes.
- May be stored for up to month in a ziplock bag or air-tight container.