I’ll keep things short and sweet today. I was planning on publishing this recipe over the weekend along with my usual weekend links. But my schedule has been quite hectic lately (more on that later), so I’m bringing those little bars of heaven to you today instead. Let’s call those Monday links, shall we?
This recipe was inspired Sophie’s amazing maca caramel from this post. I’ve been making this healthy version of a “caramel” and enjoying it on my morning oats for a few weeks now. It’s too good, I simply can’t get enough. It occurred to me that the base ingredients for the caramel (cashew butter + maple syrup + maca powder + vanilla) would make a pretty tasty granola bar as well. I’m so glad I tried it.
These bars are so good, tender but slightly crunchy, with a delicious caramel-like flavour and bits of dark chocolate chunks throughout. The oats, nuts and seeds are toasted first to bring out their flavour, and then mixed with the thick “caramel” sauce. The bars are not baked but refrigerated to preserve all of maca’s precious nutrients.
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- 2½ cups rolled oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)
- 1 cup raw unsalted almonds, chopped
- ½ cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
- ¾ cup cashew butter
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1½ tbsp maca powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used 80% cacao)
- Toast the oats in a large skillet over medium heat until slightly golden, about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the chopped almonds and sunflower seeds to the same skillet and repeat the toasting process. Toast for 6-8 minutes, until the nuts are slightly golden and fragrant, stirring frequently.
- Transfer the toasted almonds and sunflower seeds to the bowl of oats and let cool.
- Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving some strips hanging on each side.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cashew butter, maple syrup, vanilla, maca powder and sea salt. Whisk to combine. If your nut butter seems to thick, add a tiny bit of water to make it more manageable. The mixture should still be quite thick and sticky.
- Pour the maca caramel mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon to combine. Then incorporate the chopped chocolate.
- Pour the granola mixture into the prepared pan and press down evenly with your hands, until very compact.
- Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 1 hour. Once set, pull the edges of the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan. Cut into 16-20 squares or rectangles. Store bars in an airtight container for up to 5 days.