Contrary to what some readers may think, I don’t sit around stuffing my face with an entire pan of brownies that I bake. I have hungry friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers. I bake for bake sales, parties, get-togethers and birthdays. After I’ve tasted and enjoyed my share of a sweet treat, I like to share the rest of my baking with others.
However, there is one exception. When I bake up something healthy, a treat I can feel good about, I greedily save it all for myself. My Skinny Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies didn’t make it to the hands of my friends. We enjoyed them all ourselves! Guilt-free and easy. I love them!
When I tried my first Dark Chocolate Raisinet a few weeks ago, I immediately wanted to incorporate them into a recipe. Something to fuel my work-outs or break my hunger in the afternoon at work.
Raisinets are secretly my favorite pick at the movie theater and have been a treat my mom & I have LOVED together for years. Hi mom!
I love the combination of dark chocolate and fruit.
Dark chocolate does have its known health benefits, after all!
For these granola bars, I paired chopped apricots with the Dark Chocolate Raisinets. The apricots lend a delicate tartness to each bite and the chocolate… keeps me happy. The two balance each other out, no?
To make these bars stick together, I used coconut oil as my binder. If you can’t find coconut oil, use cold butter. DO NOT use another oil. The coconut oil is solid at room temperature, and you need a smidge of solid fat to hold the bars together. Not too much, because we’re trying to keep things healthy here.
I mixed the coconut oil with a bit of brown sugar to form a crumb-like consistency. I stuck this mixture in the refrigerator as I prepped my other ingredients. Again, you could always use cold butter instead of solid coconut oil.
Along with the brown sugar and coconut oil, I added whole wheat flour, oats, cinnamon, unsweetened applesauce, chopped apricots, and my favorite Dark Chocolate Raisinets. A very simple, clean ingredient list. I also added two egg whites as another binder. I wanted to make sure these bars traveled well and didn’t fall apart when I picked them up.
While they are certainly sturdy, they aren’t “heavy tasting” at all, which is exactly what I want when I’m looking for a healthy, portable snack.
The bars are sweet, but not overly-so. Feel free to reduce or add in more brown sugar if you please. The bars are also spiced with *just* the right amount of cinnamon. I love the texture complexity in each bite – melty chocolate, chewy raisins & apricots, and thick-cut oats. The bars bake up to be pretty soft, not crunchy and teeth-breaking like some granola bars can be.
The possibilities and variations of these bars are endless. Instead of apricots, try another dried fruit like craisins or dried apples. Or add peanut butter chips, nuts, seeds, or even more chocolate. Or toss in some lemon zest or grated orange zest!
Even an unglamorous granola bar can be droolworthy if you add in your favorite extras. This is one recipe I’m excited to play around with for different spin-offs!
Makes 16 bars. Bars stay fresh at room temperature for up to 1 week. Bars freeze well, up to 2 months.
- 1/2 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp solid coconut oil (or cold butter, cut into cubes)
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Raisinets (or dark chocolate chips)
- 1/2 cup chopped apricots
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 8x8 (or 9x9) bakig pan with cookie spray. Set aside.
- Combine brown sugar and coconut oil in a medium bowl until crumbly and well mixed. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the dry ingredients.
- In another medium bowl, mix together, flour, oats, raisinets, apricots, and cinnamon. Remove the sugar/oil mixture form the refrigerator and mix in with the dry ingredients. Add egg whites, applesauce, and vanilla. Lightly stir to combine. Do NOT overmix.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes until sides are barely browning. Cool completely before cutting into squares. I waited 1 hour to cute into 16 squares.
Here are a few of my favorite granola & granola bar recipes: