Dried Fruit Granola Bars

3 cups rolled oats
3 cups crisp brown rice cereal
1 1/2 cups raisins, currants, or other finely diced dried fruit
3/4 cup dates, pitted and diced
1/3 cup hot water
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 t. cinnamon
1 T. vanilla
1 t. almond extract

In a non-stick, 9x13-inch pan, place the oats and bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes to toast to a golden brown. Transfer the oats to a large bowl, add the cereal and raisins, and toss well to combine. In a blender or food processor, place the dates and water; allow to sit 5 minutes, and then process for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Transfer the pureed dates to a saucepan and add the apple juice concentrate, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Pour the date mixture over the oat mixture and toss well to combine. Pour the mixture into the same pan used to toast the oats, and place a piece of waxed paper on top of the mixture. Use a can on top of the waxed paper to roll out the mixture evenly, and compress it firmly. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned. It will seem soft but will harden as it cools. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes, cut into 24 bars, and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Wrap them individually in aluminum foil, waxed paper, or plastic cling film, or store in an airtight container.

*Variation - substitute a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, or vegan chocolate chips for the raisins in the recipe.

Yield: 24 bars


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The Vegan Chef
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