Homemade granola bars and I have had a long sordid and crumbly history. Recipes that I came across often relied on honey as an important binder which meant that it was used in quantities that semi-obviated why I wanted to make my own granola bars in the first place – I wanted to make something much less sweet! When I tried to reduce the sweetness, the recipes I made trembled at the sight of a knife, crumbling into pieces once I tried to cut them into bars.
A couple of years ago I thought that I had finally come across a granola bar that didn’t crumble and wasn’t too sweet, as it used more nut butter as a binder. But when I tried to make them a second time, full of confidence, huzzah for hubris! as they too crumbled on me.
This year, however, I do have a somewhat uncrumbly bar! Though to be more precise, it’s granola bar’s more bourgeois cousin, the nut bar.
The recipe is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction snack bars. These bars are bound by a combination of honey and almond butter, which I’ve played with to get the sweetness level that I prefer – I’ve about halved the honey and quadrupled the almond butter. Doing this does make the bars more crunchy and brittle though, so I would refer to the original recipe if you’d prefer a chewier texture.
The finer you chop the nuts, the easier the bars will be to cut into pieces. I usually leave a scattering larger chunks, but chop most of the nuts smaller. The almond butter-honey paste is quite thick, so it will take a bit of effort to work it into the nuts and evenly distribute it. However, as the binder, it’s important to make sure all the nuts are coated in some to ensure the bars stay together.
I’ve gone with a salted dark chocolate and almond combination to mimic my roommate’s favourite nut bar. It’s my favourite combination as well. This recipe makes bars that are crisp, relatively sturdy and portable, and not too sweet (and the extra salt is predictably wonderful!). You can certainly switch it up though! I’ve made these with dried fruits instead of chocolate, though they can easily start to add too much sweetness, and other nuts instead. Sally’s Baking Addiction has a number of variations on the original recipe too.
salted dark chocolate and almond bars
- 70g (3 1/2 tbsp) honey
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 37g almond meal
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 60g (1/4 c) almond butter
- 200g (1 1/3c) chopped almonds
- 50g chopped walnuts
- 56g (1/2 c) chopped dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 300F. Line an 8″ square tin with parchment paper.
Combine the honey, vanilla extract, ground almonds, salt and almond butter in a large bowl. Add the chopped nuts and chocolate, and mix very well with a wooden spoon, ensuring all of the nuts are coated evenly with some of the honey-almond butter paste.
Transfer to the prepared pan and pack down firmly with the bottom of a class. Sprinkle lightly with a bit more salt, focusing on the chunks of dark chocolate on the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until browned. Chill in the fridge before cutting into bars to help the bars firm up. Though I’ve found that the bars straight from the fridge can be a bit too brittle to slice so do allow it to sit for a little bit at room temperature first.