Gluten-Free Bird Bars

Inspired by various recipes and commercially available granola bars, I created my own seed-cookie-granola-bar. Judging from the praise my creation received from lovers of high end granola bars, I succeeded admirably. This colorful, flavorful bar, made with roasted ground cinnamon for a deep cinnamon flavor, is sweet and chewy, and has what taste-testers described as “unique notes and a satisfying texture.” Be prepared to hear, “this is the best granola bar I’ve ever eaten.” Be sure to use gluten-free rolled oats, if serving these cookies to people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Gluten-Free Bird Bars

Makes 16 bars

1 1/4 cups gluten-free, old-fashioned rolled oats (113 grams)

1/2 scant cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped (70 grams)

2/3 cup dried cranberries (80 grams)

3 tablespoons shelled, unsalted, raw pumpkin seeds (a.k.a. pepitas)

3 tablespoons shelled, unsalted, raw sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons white or black sesame seeds

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably ground roasted cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 1/2 tablespoons (2/3 stick) unsalted butter (78 grams)

1/4 cup organic honey (68 grams)

1/2 cup raw sugar, such as turbindo (100 grams)

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4. Line an 8- x 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two opposite edges. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit bottom of pan. Lightly oil the parchment and the sides of the pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together oats, almonds, cranberries, seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt butter, honey, and sugar. Stir constantly. Bring to boil and stir until sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat. Stir in oat mixture. Spoon evenly into prepared pan. Press down with back of spoon. Smooth top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until top is golden. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack, and cool completely in pan. When ready to serve, using the foil overhang, lift uncut bars from pan. If there are any droplets of liquefied butter and sugar on the bottom of the uncut bar, gently blot with a paper towel. Cut into 16 servings.

Store bars in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.

Baker’s Note: To make a more decadent treat, add a scant 1/2 cup (80 grams) of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips to the oat-nut-fruit mixture.