The trick to keeping the chocolate from melting into a (rather delightfully) gooey mess is to let the oat-almond mixture cool before mixing it in, but not so much that the brown-rice syrup gets too sticky and stubborn to work with. Toss a few chocolate chunks into the mix as testers — if they stay mostly intact, you’ve hit the sweet spot.
Makes 16 servings
- 2 tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup coarsely chopped roasted almonds
- 3/4 cup hulled raw unsalted sunflower seeds
- 2 tbs. chia seeds
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped dried dark sweet cherries*
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
- 4 oz. dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), chopped into small pieces
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the oats and cook, stirring often, until they smell toasty and start to turn golden, eight to 10 minutes. (If the oats quickly get too brown, lower the heat.)
- Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the almonds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla, then mix in the cherries. Add the rice syrup and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Quickly fold in the chocolate, press the mixture into the prepared pan, and pack it firmly with a rubber spatula or wet fingers.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and gently but firmly repack thetop of the mixture with the spatula. Let cool completely, about 90 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and slice into bars. Store the bars in an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers for up to one week at room temperature, or wrap them individually and freeze for up to three months.
*We enjoy an embarrassment of cherry riches in Oregon, and while we try not to play favorites, it’s hard not to love the almighty Bing best. When dried, it’s incomparably sweet-tart and chewy, perfect for these hearty bars.
Excerpted from The Campout Cookbook: Inspired Recipes for Cooking Around the Fire and Under the Stars by Marnie Hanel and Jen Stevenson. Copyright © 2018 by Marnie Hanel and Jen Stevenson. Used by permission of Artisan. All rights reserved.