I don’t typically do much for breakfast, especially during weekdays when I normally just eat some store-bought granola bar with my coffee as I run out the door. I usually don’t have the time or appetite to have much more, but I did have the urge recently to improve on the quality of my breakfast, so trying my hand at my own granola bars seemed like a great place to start.
In addition to the obvious inclusion of oats and nuts, I also employed some spices (cardamom and ginger) as I thought these would rather nicely complement the filling: strawberries (since I know how nicely they can go together)! I was a bit worried that using fresh strawberries would result in a wet, mushy granola mess (since they macerate and get quite wet in the presence of sugar), so I sliced them thin and insulated the granola from them with a thin layer of strawberry rhubarb jam, hoping that the presence of pectin would help keep things under control. Whether or not my reasoning about it was correct, the end result was just what I wanted: a sweet, sticky strawberry filling but not a pool of juice.
The end result was really tasty and definitely easy enough that I’ll be doing this quite regularly. The mix of nuts yielded a nice range of flavor, texture, and color, all of which went quite nicely with the strawberry filling. The only thing I would work to improve upon next time would be to give it a bit more crunch. The bars were somewhat soft, so that not every bar could actually be held in your hand for very long and remain whole. I imagine this might be as simple as increasing the amount of oats and nuts, but time will tell. Flavor-wise though, these were excellent. Sweet and just the right way to wake you up in the morning (along with some good coffee, of course)!
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
- 1 cup nuts, chopped (1/3 pistachio, 1/3 hazelnut, 1/3 almond)
- ~1/2 lb strawberries
- dab of strawberry rhubarb jam
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ginger
Begin by hulling and slicing the strawberries thinly, setting them aside. Also crush the nuts (e.g. slam them a few times with a meat mallet while in a plastic bag) somewhat coarsely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and mix in the brown sugar until fully mixed. Then, mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices, mix, and finally, pour in the oats and nuts, mixing until everything is combined.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Grease a baking pan and press a fitted sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan (makes removing the final result easier and less prone to breakage later). Then, spread about half of the batter evenly in the pan, pressing together.
Spread a thin layer of jam over the surface of this (or you could always just use more preserves and skip the fresh berries entirely if they’re out of season) and then arrange the strawberry slices on top of this.
Top this off with the rest of your batter, doing your best to spread it evenly and pressing it together. You might still see some strawberry through the top, but its ok. Just do the best you can.
Transfer this to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for an hour or so before you try to cut this block (with a sharp knife!) into bars of a size that appeals to you. Figure you could get somewhere around 15-18 bars (e.g. 5-6 columns, 3 rows) out of this, after which, you should set them aside in an airtight container in the fridge.