My no-bake granola bars have three components - dry ingredients that get toasted in the oven (oats and nuts), dry ingredients that do not get toasted (flaxseed, wheat germ), and wet ingredients (butter, brown rice syrup, honey, almond butter). Usually I mix dried fruit with the other non-toasted dry ingredients, but because these dates were really fresh and soft, I decided to combine them with the butter and brown rice syrup, hoping that the heat would kind of "melt" the dates into the other ingredients.
I think the chocolate date granola bars might be here to stay for a while. Do you ever have chocolate for breakfast?
Chocolate Date Granola Bars
Makes a 9"x13" pan
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups almonds
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips, divided
Heat oven to 350F. Chop the almonds to get a mixture of large and small pieces. Spread the oats, buckwheat, and almonds on a large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
In a very large bowl, combine the wheatgerm and flaxseed. Add the toasted oats, almonds and buckwheat and stir to combine. Let cool for a few minutes, then stir in about half of the chocolate chips.
Line a 9"x13" pan with wax paper, and set aside a second piece of wax paper of the same size. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the dates and cook for 2-3 minutes, then pour in the brown rice syrup. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the almond butter and salt.
Pour the date mixture over the dry ingredients and mix very very well until thoroughly combined. Pour onto the prepared 9"x13" pan and use a spatula to spread the mixture. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over the top. Put the second piece of wax paper on top of the bars, then use your hands and/or a rolling pin to flatten the bars as much as possible. Cool completely before cutting into bars.