It’d been too long in my mind since I made granola, and with the usual breakfast sundries not doing the trick as of late it seemed time to make Smitten Kitchen’s Almond Date Breakfast Bars. Not just for breakfast, but healthy holiday snacking in the afternoon or a late night snack while up watching Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle.
Almond Date Breakfast Bars from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
1 cup chopped dried pitted dates
1 1/4 quick rolled oats
3 Tbsp barley or whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1/4 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-by-8-by-2-inch pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing the paper to go up the opposing sides. Do the same in the opposite direction. This parchment “sling” makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan in one piece.
Stir together the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, salt, and cinnamon in the bottom of a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond butter, olive oil, honey, orange zest, and almond extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mixture, and stir them together until the dry ingredients are evenly coated. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, pressing the mixture firmly onto the bottom, edges, and corners to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
Bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are brown around the edges – don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost under baked when you press into the center of the pan, but do not worry – they’ll set once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan placed on a cooling rack or in the fridge.
Once they’re cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill them further in the fridge for 30 minutes, which will fully set the “glue,” then cut them cold.