As part of the Family Tested program, we asked Canadian families to test and review our recipes.
One Ilderton family had a few hiccups along the way, but loved the recipe and would make it again. Mom was fond of the easy to modify aspect of this recipe.
The recipe required a few ingredients that I don’t stock at home, mainly dried cherries and almond extract, so it required a trip to the grocery store. When my boys (8 and 4 years old) and I started making the bars we had a few hiccups. I’ve never toasted oats before so I was not quite sure what I was looking for, cooking them in a dry pan on medium seemed to take forever so I turned the heat up a bit to medium-high and just kept an eye on them, turning them over constantly.
The recipe was very easy to follow and to put together, requiring minimal time and effort, although it did need two pans, a bowl and a casserole dish.
I put the bars in a butter lined casserole dish, pressing it in firmly with a spatula, I found using my hands was not the way as the mixture was hot and sticky. I liked the way the recipe had you put half the chocolate in while mixing then half after, it made the first half melt all through the bars.
After the two hours the granola was still slightly gooey. I cut the bars in the pan and used a spatula to remove them. I ended up placing them in a container in the fridge which made them set really well. The bars tasted fantastic.
I made them a second time the other day. This time I ran a knife through the dried cherries (I used tart) as I found them a little big the first time. Other additions could be changing the cherries for dried cranberries, dried pineapple, mango, or changing some of the dark chocolate for white chocolate. The addition of coconut or chopped almonds would also work well. I use pure almond extract so these would not be able to go to school (nut free) but substituting artificial extract would take care of that.
All in all the recipe was easy to make, tasted great, and is easy to modify for future baking endeavors. My kids could easily help make them. We will definitely make these again.
– Lee Campbell, Ilderton, ON.
This Scarborough family got the whole family involved and was happy to have the kids learning something new.
We made the granola bars with our 2 children aged 5 and 2 years old. They were really excited to help out in the kitchen.
The 2-year-old was happy to help pour the ingredients in the bowl. The oldest of our children, who is a boy, relished pressing the mixture down in the pans. We told him that he could squish the stuff down as hard as he could, so he was happy to oblige. Since my kids are so young, they were not able to use the stovetop to blend the honey mix or toast the oats, so Dad helped do that. Because this recipe is no bake, the ingredients on the mixing spoons can be eaten after we were done. Our 5 year old was very happy about that. He enjoyed trying the mixture before it was set. We didn’t have to worry about him eating uncooked batter like when we make cookies.
These granola bars are “very yummy” with a great mix of chocolate and sweetness of the cherries. The crisp rice cereal adds a little crunch to it which makes it fun to eat for the little ones. Our bars didn’t quite look like the ones in the picture. I know that some of the chocolate would melt but, I did not think it would coat everything in the bowl. The one problem we had with eating them was they did crumble a bit when the kids were eating them which may have been just the way they were handling them or that we did not press them hard enough into the pan.
When trying the granola bars the kids were not just satisfied with one bar each. Knowing what was in them helped us to be more comfortable with them having more than we would allow them with store bought granola bars. These can be used for breakfast or a quick snack and stay together quite nicely for packing to bring along for an outing.
The best part of making this recipe is that the kids got to be just like mom. It was a project that made them feel more grown up and special. I hope that these kinds of experiences will help understand that anyone can make something delicious without being a chef.
– Michelle Chamberlain, Scarborough, ON.
This family loved the fact that the ingredient list was simple and were pleased at how affordable they were compared to store bought granola bars.
I found that the recipe was relatively simple to follow. Overall, the ingredient list is relatively simple and I already had most of the ingredients on hand. I did have a hard time locating the dried cherries, but eventually I found them at a local big box store. In terms of affordability, I found the ingredient list to be relatively affordable and overall, it is a lot cheaper than buying boxed granola bars.
Many of the ingredients can be purchased in bulk to reduce the cost. Another bonus is that the ingredient list is quite basic and it could easily be switched up.
I liked that there are no artificial ingredients in these bars and I found that most items could be swapped out for an organic version. I also appreciated that there were no nuts on the ingredient list, so if you were to omit the almond extract, they would be appropriate to send along as snacks or in lunch boxes to nut free facilities.
The dark chocolate and the cherry combination was delicious, although I did find the cherries to be fairly tart. I did chop up the dried cherries to spread them more evenly throughout the bars. The crisp rice cereal adds a nice crisp crunch to the bars. Even after leaving them in the baking dish for two hours and pressing them firmly into the baking dish, I found the bars to be somewhat crumbly along the edges of the baking dish. So I put the baking dish in the refrigerator for a few hours, which really firmed them up.
After the granola bars had firmed up in the fridge, I cut them them up (I got about 12 bars out of my 9″ x 11″ baking dish) and wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and stored them in the refrigerator to maintain firmness. I imagine they could also be frozen. Overall, the No-Bake Dark Chocolate and Cherry Granola Bars were a hot commodity in our home and they were enjoyed by all ages and stages. The first batch I made was eaten within a few days.
This was my first attempt at making homemade granola bars and I was thrilled with the results. I will definitely be making them again.
– Holly Nepper, Edmonton, AB.
This granola loving family, enjoyed making (and eating) this recipe. They suggest using regular rice cereal if brown rice cereal cannot be found.
Overall, the recipe is a winner. It was fast and easy to make with generally accessible ingredients. The liquid mixture was the right quantity and blended well into the dry component. The finished mixture set in 2 hours as indicated in the recipe. The bars taste great, and the light almond extract added another dimension of flavor. Our family purchases two boxes of granola bars each week, so homemade bars are a great alternative. So simple, even the little ones can help make some.
Just a few minor suggestions and comments. Brown rice cereal is harder to find, but the differences in texture are barely noticeable. Regular crisped rice cereal works just as well. Perhaps include an estimated toasting time for the oats, such as a minimum 3-5 minutes or more. We substituted dried cranberries, which worked great. Other fruit ingredient to try include raisins, flaked coconut, or any dried fruit, diced smaller if necessary.
– Sally Mah, Edmonton, AB.