These chewy goji chocolate granola bars are the perfect trail food to bring on your next hike.
Winter can be a sleepy time on the Connecticut shoreline. The sky is gray, the wind is cold, and the rain always seems to be just a few degrees above freezing. For many, it’s a time to hunker down by the fire, pour a cup of tea, and patiently wait for the northern hemisphere to get on with it already and tilt the other direction. And depending on your disposition, it can be a very long wait indeed.
For us, this winter has offered us an opportunity to experiment in the comforts of a full kitchen. To get creative and develop recipes without the high stakes of cooking at a campsite. Now when we dirty a bunch of dishes we can just stick them in the dishwasher. Or when we run out of food, we can just drive to the store to pick up more. We can bake things in an oven, warm stuff up in a microwave, a chop whatever we want in a food processor. And while all this might seem run-of-the-mill to most civilized people, we can assure you, we’re still getting a big kick out of it.
However, we can only bake so many batches of cookies and puree so many bisques before we feel the need to get outside again. Having every kitchen gadget at our fingertips is nice and all, but sometimes less is more. So we started tinkering on camping food we could take with us, which brought us to this chewy chocolate goji granola bar. We went through a couple of versions before getting the consistency down, but finally, we got it. A bar that was chewy without tasting raw yet firm enough to hold its shape. Once we dialed in the recipe, we couldn’t wait to take them out on the trail.
So in our excitement, we decided to drive up to East Haddam to explore Devil’s Hopyard. It was cold out and misting rain, but we were done letting the weather push us around – so off we went into the woods. We hiked along Eightmile River and followed the sound of crashing water until we reached Chapman Falls. Michael summed it up best by saying, “While I’ve definitely seen better waterfalls in Oregon, I’ve also seen crappier ones there too.” We took a trek through the woods that led us on a loop through the forest and back to a covered bridge, a quintessential hallmark of New England quaintness.
As is often the case, we blew straight through lunchtime and didn’t notice until it was too late. This is the beauty of carrying a couple granola bars with you. All it takes is a little foresight to make a batch of these ahead of time, so you can lose yourself completely in whatever you’re doing later.
Chewy Chocolate Goji Granola Bar
6 dates (pitted and roughly chopped)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup goji berries
1 oz dark chocolate (chopped (we use Trader Joe's brand to make these vegan friendly!))
Preheat oven to 350.
Place the dates, water, maple syrup, chia seeds, vanilla, and salt into the bowl of your food processor. Let it all soak for 5 minutes, then process until fairly smooth (it’s OK to have some pieces of dates remaining, but you don’t want any big chunks).
Toast oats over medium heat in a heavy bottomed skillet until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure even toasting and prevent them from burning.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the oats, goji berries, dark chocolate and the date mixture. Mix well with a spoon until all the oats are completely covered in the date mixture.
Line a 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan with parchment paper. Spread the mixture evenly into the pan, then press down on it to really compact it (we used the bottom of a glass for this).
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely, then remove from the pan and cut into 6 bars.
To make these portable, wrap them in parchment paper, plastic wrap, or small ziplocks, then throw them in your pack and go!