Heart-Shaped (or Any Shape) Gluten-Free Granola Bars

Shaped granola bars are great for school snacks, too!

Shaped granola bars are great for school snacks, too! And, they’re gluten-free!

Granola Bars the Fun and Gluten-Free Way!
What’s up with the recent gluten-free kick, you ask? Oh, nothing, really. It’s just been on the list of things to share with you all for quite a while now. Well, that and the passing of Valentine’s Day and wanting to come up with a creative school snack that wasn’t overloaded with sugar.

With just the change of a cookie cutter, these granola treats can be made into any festive shape such as clovers for St. Patrick’s Day, bunnies for Easter, and or pumpkins for Halloween.

Be sure to read the Tips section below to optimize your time in the kitchen.

4      Cups            Gluten-Free Oats — the brand used here is Bob’s Red Mill
1      Cup              Gluten-Free Oats, processed into flour
1/4   Cup              Canola Oil
3/4   Cup              Honey
2      Ounces         Dark Brown Sugar (measured by weight, using a food scale)
1/2   Teaspoon     Kosher Salt
1-3   Teaspoons   Vanilla (to taste)

Quick Directions
Preheat the oven to 300ºF and prep your cookie sheets. Toast the oats and oat flour until light brown. Heat up the remaining ingredients in a large pot and when they bubble up, turn off the heat and add the dry mix. Thoroughly coat and then pour the loose mixture onto a cookie sheet. Flatten evenly and then bake for 15 – 22 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into squares or rectangles or desired shape . The key is to do this BEFORE the granola cools. Then, let bars cool completely. Enjoy!

Detailed Directions
1. Preheat oven to 300ºF. Grease one large cookie sheet or two small cookie sheets. You can also use parchment paper instead. For the after-baking process, grease a flat spatula or the outside bottom of a cookie sheet if you do not have wax paper or parchment paper.
2. Process the cup of GF oats into flour for about 2 minutes. Some coarseness is fine.
3. Mix the 4 cups of GF oats and 1 cup of GF oat flour together in a bowl. Transfer to baking sheets.
4. Toast the oats until light brown, about 15 – 21 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every 5-7 minutes.
5. While the oats are browning during the last 3-4 minutes, prepare the remaining ingredients.
6. In a measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup of canola oil. Rotate the measuring cup so that the oil coats the sides. Then, add the honey to the oil until it reaches the 1 cup mark in the measuring cup.
7. Set a large pot with a handle on the stove on medium heat. Add the honey and oil.
8. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir.
9. Once the mixture dissolves the dark brown sugar and bubbles up, turn off the heat. Then add the vanilla, if desired.
10. At this point, the oats mixture should be finished toasting. Add it to the large pot and stir until every last oat is fully coated. The mixture will be loose. This is normal!
11. Transfer the integrated mixture onto the cookie sheet(s). Spread it out evenly across the cookie sheet.
12. Rip off a sheet of wax paper to cover the cookie sheet or use the greased spatula or the greased bottom outside of a cookie sheet and flatten the mixture evenly across the cookie sheet. The objective is to make the mixture as straight and flat as possible so that when the granola is done baking, the width is uniform.
13. Bake for 17-22 minutes, depending on how dark you want your granola bars to be. The longer the baking time, the crunchier the granola will be.
14. Prepare a large work space. Once the granola is done baking remove from the oven.
15. The next goal is to cut out the desired shapes before the granola cools and hardens! You can use another baking sheet to invert the slab of granola onto your work space. Or, if you used parchment paper instead of greasing the sheet, you can gently pull the paper with the slab of granola onto your work space. Make sure that you slide it in such a way that it remains level with your work space so that the granola stab stays intact.
16. The granola will be hot! But this is the time to start cutting out the granola with your desired cookie cutter. Pressing down on the granola within the cookie cutter helps fill out the shape and keeps the granola together better. Be careful, and run your hands under cold water and then dry if necessary.
17. Use a small spatula or knife to lift the cut out granola bars onto a plate or one of the other cookie sheets you may have used.
18. Cool completely, then enjoy!

— If you only need to cut out a small number of shapes, just out the remaining granola into rectangles or squares. Just remember to do it before it cools down!
— If you wait until the granola is completely cooled, cutting it may be really hard.
— Quick rolled oats can also be used. There is a slight difference in texture, but tastes just as good!
— Toasting the oats helps. Just be sure not to burn any of the oats because then the entire batch will taste burned.
— You may have to make 2 – 3 batches to get it just right for your oven. This is normal. So, make sure to have enough ingredients on hand to do so.
— Try this recipe before you need to make them so you can work out the kinks. But then, that’s good advice for any new recipe, right?!
— The granola bars and the crumbs make scrumptious granola cereal with milk if you don’t want just a granola bar!
— If you would like to add raisins or coconuts or other yummy options, just take out the same amount of oats to keep the overall ratios the same.

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