Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars

So much has happened since we last spoke that I wouldn't know where to begin. I feel as if more than a month has passed, as if I have aged half a dozen years in a few short weeks. Life is a mixture of exhaustion and transition right now, as I adjust to my new beginning. There have been so many changes to my daily life and I haven't had a moment to sort out my feelings about them. In many ways, it feels like I took off running and I am still trying to catch my breath.

Breath in. Breathe out. Breath in.

This evening, I'm sitting on a new couch in a new apartment, propping my feet up on a new coffee table. The space is smaller than before, built for only one, but somehow it suits me. The view from my window stands in contrast to the old, as different scenery from a different state looks in. I have unpacked my belongings, trying to fit the pieces of my old life into my new—a jigsaw puzzle of memories and unfamiliarity, as the two sets of pieces merge to form a completed image.

The final picture is just beginning to form, the edges in place, but the middle is still muddled, an unclear image of the final product.

I have been so caught up in these life adjustments, drained of thought or energy, that I haven't opened the oven door in over a month. It feels strange to have abandoned baking for so long, holding it so close to my heart as I do. During a morning rainstorm last weekend, I turned on the oven and tried to rekindle some of the familiarity I had lost in the move. I made granola, a simple comfort food with a touch of character.

The scent of granola wafted through the apartment, erasing the foreign scents and replacing them with something closer to home. For this, I was grateful.

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars are filling and wholesome. Dried apricots are plumped up by soaking in black tea and are pureed to form the base of the bars. With honey for sweetness and nuts and dried fruit for interest, the chewy bars make a quick breakfast or snack complete. The bars bake up soft, but hold together well, cutting neatly into pieces.

One Year Ago: Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes and S'mores Pancakes
Two Years Ago: Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze and S'mores Pie
Three Years Ago: Incredibly Moist Chocolate Prune Cake and Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars

Yields 8 granola bars

5 ounces (145 grams) dried apricots
2/3 cup (155 ml) freshly brewed black tea
1/3 cup (112 grams) honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (160 grams) old fashioned oats
1/3 cup (55 grams) dried cranberries
1/2 cup (60 grams) sliced almonds
1/2 cup (60 grams) unsweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a square 8 x 8-inch baking pan.

In a small saucepan, place the dried apricots and black tea. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the dried apricots to absorb the tea. In a food processor or blender, process the apricots and tea until it forms a smooth paste.

In a large bowl, mix together the apricot puree, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth. Add the oats, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and coconut flakes, stirring until granola is evenly coated. It will be moist.

Press granola firmly into baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely, about 2-3 hours, before turning out on a cutting board. You must allow the granola to cool completely or the bars will fall apart. Using a sharp knife, cut granola bars into 8 equal pieces (a dull knife will break apart the bars). Wrap in parchment paper to make quick grab-and-go snacks. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh.