Don’t be folled by the word “granola” in the title, because this isn’t really a healthy recipe and it isn’t even remotely low carb. But it is delicious and was created to be a fun treat for my kids. I love oats, and I love almost anything made with oats. I can’t really eat them anymore, but I always keep them in the house for my children. They are wonderfully versatile and offer a healthy breakfast alternative to pre-packaged cereals. I have to say, it’s a wonder anyone buys the instant oatmeals, when old-fashioned oats only take about two more minutes in the microwave! My kids love oatmeal with raisins and just a touch of maple syrup or brown sugar. But I really keep oats in the house to bake with, because I love how they taste in sweet baked goods like cookies and fruit crisps. Oats, brown sugar and butter might just be the best combination in the whole wide world.
Granola bars fall into a funny grey area between healthy and sweet. I grew up thinking granola and granola bars were one of the food items I could put in the “health food” column. It wasn’t until I had to start watching my carbs that I realized just how much sugar most granola bars contain – even the “healthy” ones like Kashi and Nature Valley. Sure, some granolas and granola bars have lots of good whole grains and fiber, but I tend to think of them now as falling into the “treat” column. It’s par for the course, really. To get all of those delicious oats and whole grains to clump together nicely, you really need something sticky and sweet. Even if it’s not refined sugar, but agave nectar or dates, it’s all way too many carbs for this diabetic.
Still, we keep a lot of granola bars in this house. My kids (and huband) love them and we’re on the go so much that they make an easy, portable snack item. Sadly, I can’t send the pre-packaged ones to school, since they generally aren’t nut-free. So if I want to send in granola bars in school lunches, I have to make them myself. I had fun creating the Ginger Cashew Granola Bars for my husband and figured I could modify the recipe easily enough for a nut-free, child-friendly version. At first, I was thinking some dried fruit and perhaps a few chocolate chips. But then, as these things do, the idea evolved in my head to be a real treat with a capital T. Chocolate granola bars with chocolate chips, topped off with white chocolate drizzle. Now that’s a snack you can sink your teeth into!
The Results: This recipe certainly doesn’t fall into that funny grey area, because these delicious granola bars are all Treat. They smelled like chocolate cookies in the oven, and the little bit of the crumbs I tasted confirmed that. But, oh, the oaty, chocolatey goodness! They take the sweet side of oats to a whole new level. They are chewy, which my kids love, and they look so pretty with the white chocolate drizzle. My husband was in love at first bite, and kept saying “Wow, those are good!”.
Now, I do confess that the mini chocolate chips are practically invisible because of the chocolate colour of the bars themselves. This could perhaps be corrected with regular-sized chips, or even chocolate chunks. But either way, these bars are a wonderful treat for the whole family (except, perhaps, if you are diabetic or a low carber and can’t actually eat them!).
Triple Chocolate Granola Bars
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup honey
2 cups old-fashioned oats (gluten free, if possible)
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
2 tsp butter
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the ends for easy removal and cleanup. Grease parchment paper.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, sugar, cocoa powder and honey together. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Let cool.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flax seed meal, chocolate chips and salt.
Add butter mixture to oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture evenly in pan and press down firmly. Use the flat-bottom of a measuring cup if you have one.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes (they will be very soft), then lift bars out using edges of parchment. Let cool for another 15 minutes, or until starting to firm up. Cut into bars using a very sharp knife and let cool completely.
Melt white chocolate and butter together in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let bottom of bowl touch water). Stir until smooth. Spoon into a small ziploc bag with the tip cut off one corner. Squeeze white chocolate mixture out of the hole in a zig zag pattern over the cooled bars. Let set.