Soft and Chewy Granola Bars

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 T mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil. Oil the pan with oil or cooking spray.

Add oats and almonds to a small baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes. Stir and bake a few more minutes, until the almonds are lightly toasted. Transfer to large bowl.

Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

Pour butter mixture into a bowl with the toasted oats and almonds. Mix well. Let cool for 5 minutes. Then add cranberries and 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips. Stir to combine.

Transfer oat mixture to lined pan and press mixture into the pan with damp fingers or a rubber spatula. Press hard, to be certain the bars are firmly in place and will stay together once they are cooled and cut.

Scatter remaining 2 T of chocolate chips over the pressed granola mixture and gently press them into the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Remove block of granola from the pan and peel off the foil. Cut into 12 bars.

Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. For soft bars, keep at room temperature. For harder bars, store in the refrigerator.

Original Recipe found at InspiredTaste.net

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