Homemade Chewy Granola Bar Hearts

20121202-204319.jpgMy kids love granola bars; in fact, my six-year-old daughter is obsessed. She seems to want a snack in a foil wrapper at every meal. I’m tired of the junk food battle, and I decided to do something about it. I have been experimenting with different homemade granola bar recipes and came up with this version. I feel good about serving this to my kids knowing that it is made with real ingredients and is not filled with additives and chemicals. I think these granola bars taste better than any packaged ones I’ve ever had. My six-year-old said to tell you that she really likes these granola bars. Now if only I had a machine to wrap these in shiny foil paper.

My 10-year-old daughter got really excited about creating a granola bar recipe, and she collaborated with me. It was her idea to make each bar in the shape of a heart using a cookie cutter. The bars also can be made in the shape of a circle using muffin tins. We were inspired by recipes from fellow food bloggers at Cookin’ Canuck and Snack Girl. The variations are endless, so feel free to play around with the recipe and adjust to your preference.

Use a cookie cutter as a mold to shape the granola bars:

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Homemade Chewy Granola Bar Hearts
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Recipe type: Snack
Author:
Serves: Makes 34-36 mini hearts
Serving size is 2 mini hearts.
Ingredients:
  • 2-1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup cereal, like crispy rice or similar
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal
  • ½ cup salted pistachios, chopped (or pecans)
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped (or ½ cup raisins or cranberries)
  • ½ cup loosely packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup (heaping) mini chocolate chips
  • 3 mashed large bananas (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened creamy peanut butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: oats, cereal, flax seed meal, nuts, dried fruit, coconut, and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine the wet ingredients: banana, peanut butter, vanilla, and maple syrup.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients, and stir to combine well. There should be just enough wet ingredients to cover the dry ones.
  5. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter as a mold to form the granola hearts. Our cookie cutter is about 2-1/2 inches across at the widest point. Place the mold on the baking sheet. Press the batter into the mold with a medium amount of pressure, making sure you do not have large air pockets in the batter. Fill the mold ⅝ to ¾ of an inch high. Lift up the cookie cutter and simultaneously poke the granola down to release the mold and use it to shape more granola bar hearts.
  6. When the baking sheet is full, bake for 10-12 minutes until the granola is a little brown on the bottom and any coconut on the top is golden brown. Cool on a rack.
  7. If you use a larger heart cookie cutter (3 inches across and almost 1 inch high), then the cooking time is 12-15 minutes with a smaller yield.
Notes:
Store bars in the refrigerator for a few days, or these bars freeze nicely.

 

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8 Responses to Homemade Chewy Granola Bar Hearts

  1. Heidi K March 24, 2013 at 6:53 PM #

    I have a friend that would like to make these but one of her kids is allergic to bananas. What would you recommend in place of them?

    • Dana March 24, 2013 at 9:00 PM #

      Bananas are an important part of what binds the granola together in this recipe. I haven’t tried making them without the bananas so I don’t know how they would turn out. It you are up for experimenting, you could increase the other binders in the recipe- the peanut butter and honey. Or you could try a different puréed fruit like apple sauce or pumpkin, but those might not be as binding as bananas. Or just search for another granola bar recipe that doesn’t use bananas and has already been tested.

  2. Kim January 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM #

    The flavor is delicious but I couldn’t get them to crunch up; they remained too soft to even hold. Sigh.

    • Dana January 23, 2013 at 1:18 PM #

      Sorry you did not get the results you were looking for. These are soft, not crunchy granola bars. They do firm up some when they cool. The banana and peanut butter are the binders in this recipe, so perhaps your bananas were smaller than mine. My advice for when a recipe doesn’t turn out exactly as desired is to re-imagine the dish. Perhaps your granola pieces will make a great yogurt topping.

      • Kim January 24, 2013 at 5:23 AM #

        Thanks! My kids really did love the flavor and all the “bars” are pretty much gone today! I think I’ll try these again with a little less liquid and a few more oats.

      • Dana January 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM #

        Hi Kim, glad you are going to give them another go. That’s an interesting hypothesis that maybe you had too much of the wet ingredients. The batter is not wet; there is just enough moist ingredients to cover the dry ones. Another variable to consider is how your oven runs. Mine tends to be hot and quick, which I take into account when I write recipes. You might be able to increase the cooking time to 15 minutes, but you need to watch the granola bites. They are ready when they start turning golden brown. I find that the bottom get more brown and the top gets flecked. Hope you have success the second time around.

      • Dana February 1, 2013 at 10:24 AM #

        Kim, I have made these granola hearts again (they are very popular in my house). I now think the trick is to make sure your batter is slightly packed into the mold. If there are too many air pockets, then the bars do not hold together. I updated the instructions to reflect this point. I also put a cup measurement for the bananas.

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