Here's a secret: toasting things makes them taste better. This is true for nuts, yes, and also grains. Take this recipe for example: the oats are toasted to a nutty-adding depth, nuttiness, and ... toastiness to the grain, and an extra layer of yumminess to the finished bars. The nuts, on the other hand, are not toasted to add that creaminess raw nuts have, and helping to bind the ingredients together. Magic happens in the kitchen when you play around with the different flavor profiles of your ingredients!
Maple Granola Bars (no-bake, gluten & dairy-free)
Yield: 8 bars
1 cup (90 grams) rolled or quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup whole raw cashews
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons mini white chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt
Cinnamon sugar, optional
Heat the oven to 350ºF (or you can use a toaster oven, too, for toasting the oats).
Line a loaf pan with foil to come all the way up on the long sides and allow 1-inch wings. Set aside.
Spread the oats on a rimmed sheet pan and toast until fragrant and slightly darker, about 10 minutes. You can toast the oats in a toaster oven, too.
Add toasted oats to a food processor along with the cashews, walnuts, seeds, brown sugar, and salt and blend until very fine, like the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla and blend until the mixture is combined and starts to form a dough. It’ll still look crumbly in the food processor, but if you poke it with your finger, it should stick together.
Press the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, spreading it out firmly and evenly. I find if I lay one of my plastic bench scrapers atop the dough and press down on it, I can get a nice even layer. Press the chocolate chips firmly into the top and sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired.
Transfer to the fridge for at least 30 minutes, then remove and slice into 8 small bars. Return to the fridge. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks.