Fruit-Filled Mini Cereal Bars, Revisted

Food and Whine’s healthy cereal bars with a new and improved crust!

Filling:

1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/4 cup water or juice

Dough:
2 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, or a combination)
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup milk

In a saucepan on medium-high heat, simmer the filling ingredients until the fruit is soft. Blend until smooth and thick with an immersion blender.
While the filling cools, make your dough. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, flax, wheat germ and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter utnil mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk and form a ball with the dough. Add more flour as necessary if it’s too sticky. On a floured surface, take half the dough at a time and roll it out into a rectangular shape with about 1/8″ thickness. Cut the dough into long strips with about a 3″ width. Spread a thin layer of filling down the centre of the strips. Fold the strips over and seal the edges shut. Cut the strips into 3″ bars. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet at bake at 350F for 16-18 minutes.
Makes about 18-20 bars.

Here is the original recipe for comparison: Fruit Filled Mini Cereal Bars. I liked the idea of this cereal bar and I was happy with the original filling, but the dough needed some work. Many people found it too hard to work with and too chewy. I decided to attempt them again with a major overhaul to the dough part of the recipe. Although I like applesauce, honey, and oats, they were making the dough too sticky so I had to omit them this time. For this new recipe I used brown sugar for sweetness instead of honey and applesauce, and flax and wheatgerm for added nutrition instead of quick oats. I also replaced the oil with butter that is cut into the flour, like a biscuit or pastry dough. I think this improved the texture a lot. So what did the kids think? Well, Cole wasn’t impressed. I think it’s because I used all whole wheat flour so the crust was a little tougher than if I had used all-purpose flour. Next time I’ll try a combination of flours to see if it’s more to Cole’s liking. Bennett took one bite and handed it back to me. I think he just wasn’t hungry, because when I gave it to him again a little while later he enjoyed it. As with any new recipe it is a work in progress but I think this version is at least an improvement. There is probably some more tweaking to do but it’s getting there. Please try it and let me know what you think, I really appreciate the feedback!

Oh, and I made some of them with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. So cute! I might do more of them like that next time.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I’m looking forward to trying this. I tried the recipe when you posted to Tasty Kitchen (squarefootcook) and I actually really liked it. The flavor of the dough wasn’t bad at all. I did have to add extra flour and refrigerate the dough to work with it though. I’m excited to try this new version! I love the idea of homemade cereal bars and I appreciate that you are taking the time and energy to tackle this experimentation for the rest of us. Thanks so much for sharing the recipes!

    By the way, have you thought about using pastry flour in combo with the whole wheat? It might make for a more tender dough.

  2. says

    Thanks for the comment! I think pastry flour is a great idea. It’s not something I typically have on hand so didn’t use it, but I think you’re right, it would make a more tender dough. If you try them with pastry flour let me know how it turns out.

  3. says

    I just made these this morning. I used frozen fruit, so I don’t know if that’s why my filling wasn’t as thick as I thought it was supposed to be, but it wasn’t runny so it still worked. The filling makes way too much for the dough, so I think I’m going to make a second batch of dough to use up some of the remaining filling.

    The dough easily came together and although a bit sticky right out of the bowl, when I gently kneaded it on a floured surface, it was fine. I used half AP and half WW flour. I didn’t have wheat germ, so I just added an extra tbsp of flax.

    Both my kids (aged 3.5 years old and 10 months) gobbled them up.

    How many is the recipe supposed to make?

  4. says

    Thanks for the great comments Kristyne, that’s the kind of constructive feedback I like to get. I think I just copied and pasted the filling part of the recipe form the other version and forgot to adjust for this dough recipe, which makes less dough than the other one. The extra filling is great spread on toast though! It’s been a while since I’ve made these so I can’t recall how many it made. The problem is I tend to experiment with different shapes and sizes so it’s hard to get a standard number. I’ll give it another try and let you know, and I’ll adjust the filling amount too. I’m glad you pointed that out. I usually use fresh fruit and it’s fairly thick, so maybe the frozen fruit had something to do with the thinner consistency. If you do want to thicken it up you can always combine a little cornstarch and water and add it in while it’s simmering.

  5. says

    I thought as I was adding the 1/3c of water that I probably didn’t need it, so next time I think I’d just start simmering the fruit to get the juices releasing and then add the dates to soften them up. I think that would probably do the trick. I wouldn’t want to add cornstarch if not necessary.

    I did use some of the filling to mix in with my youngest son’s quinoa, and he gobbled it up. I have no doubt I’ll be able to use the extra filling!

    Now off to peruse your recipes for some inspiration for dinner! :)

  6. says

    I just made these again (how’s that for promptness!) and made my adjustments to the recipe above. I had only a few tablespoons of filling left with these new amounts and it was nice and thick even with using frozen berries. I made 18 bars, but I could have probably gotten a couple more out of it if I had rolled the dough a bit thinner. Also I reduced the amount of baking powder because I found they puff up a little too much and this causes some of them to break open. I think these changes will help. Thanks!

  7. says

    Wow… that was super prompt! I think I may use up the filling in something else (youngest guy loved it mixed in with his yogurt this afternoon) and will try a whole new filling when I make them again. Because it wasn’t thick enough, there isn’t quite enough filling. I think cutting down the baking powder is a good idea as mine did puff up a fair bit too! I got 20 when I made them the first time. Thanks so much for tweaking the recipe yet again! :) Will post again when I make another batch!

  8. says

    Okay… I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I used the new measurements for the filling and ran out! :P Thank goodness I had some of yesterday’s still in the fridge, so I mixed it in with the thicker stuff, so I’m hoping it will all turn out. I think I may have overstuffed them? We’ll see when they come out of the oven and cool down enough to sample. But at least the filling was thick this time! :)

  9. says

    lol, oh boy I don’t know! I tend to go easy on the filling because I’m worried about it spilling out as it cooks. Glad to hear it was thick at least.

  10. says

    I definitely overfilled a few of them, as the filling did spill out. I think next time I will cut my strips of dough, and then cut them into pieces, drop spoonfuls of filling on each one, fold over and crimp with a fork to seal. I definitely liked the more filling in them. This is a great recipe, and I will keep making it! Thank you!!

  11. says

    It says 1/2 tbsp baking powder. Is it supposed to be 1/2 tsp? I am confused because that’s an odd measurement since 1/2 tbsp = 1 1/2 tsp. Just want to check and because you made a comment about too much baking powder. Don’t want to waste these gorgeous strawberries :)

  12. says

    Thanks, Megan! I made them as stated and they were pretty good. I did a 1:1 with wheat and white and it was a little heavy. I did a second batch of dough (since I used did some with this filling and some with blackberry jam I had leftover filling) with more white than wheat and they were perfect. Thanks for the recipe and for responding so quickly! This was my first recipe from your blog that I have tried and I can’t wait to try others. Specifically the crockpot butter chicken!

  13. Anonymous says

    I really did not like this dough recipe I feel it needs work done. It was disappointing because the pics make it look Yum, it was kind of tasteless. Although the fruit filling was pretty good, def going to work on fixing that dough

    • says

      Fair enough, I agree it still needs some work. Have you tried the original cereal bar recipe? Some people actually like that dough better, it just depends on your tastes. Part of the difficulty is keeping it nutritious and low in sugar and fat, AND making it taste great. It’s tough to find that balance. If you do come up with something please share.

  14. says

    I made a fruit filling that turned out yummy. I made a few bars but ran out of patience rolling it out because it kept sticking. lol. :) My kiddo really liked them, though! I’m going to look for more of a “soft cookie” dough – maybe kind like oatmeal cookies to try for these bars. I used the rest of my dough to make little slightly sweet “crackers” that my kiddo dips in applesauce. :)

  15. Anonymous says

    Delicious! I was pleasantly surpised by these bars. The dates in the filling actually seem to be the “thickening agent”. I used half wheat/half all purpose flour and I put the dough together in my food processor…..easy and so soft and yummy. Great job!

  16. Anonymous says

    I just found this recipe while “stumbling”. this looks amazing!! i have been wanting to make homemade cereal bars for myself and my 13 month old daughter. i am baking these right now!!!

  17. Anonymous says

    I made 2 versions of these tonight. Using 1 cup white four, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 tbsp whole flax seed, 2 tbsp ground oats, 1/4 cup raw sugar as my dry dough ingredients and coconut oil in place of butter. It was delicious! The 2 kinds were raspberry(fresh), cherry (jam), raisin (dried) and mango (fresh), pineapple (dried), applesauce, coconut. So mush tastier than the nutrigrain or kashi equivalent.

  18. Anonymous says

    I changed up the dough a little and used 1/2 cup quick oats, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, and 1 cup whole wheat flour, and an extra tablespoon of flax seads in place of the wheat germ, because I didn’t have any on hand. The dough was a little sticky, but I used extra flour on my surface and flipped the dough a few times while rolling, and it was not a problem at all. I enjoyed the results, and my kids loved them. My toddler ate two in a row, and my preschooler liked his so much he wouldn’t even give me one bite to try. I’d say it’s a success!

  19. Anonymous says

    Love this recipe! My husband was eating the bars raw off of the baking sheet before I could get them in the oven, and my kids (ages 7 and 9) LOVE them. So appreciative, glad to have found a healthy recipe that is quick, easy, and safe for my kids! Thank you!

  20. Valerie Owens says

    I’m a little late to the commentary here – your kids are probably making their own snacks by now! I looked at both this and your previous version of this recipe and did a mix of the two. I mostly followed the new recipe for the dough, but in place of the flax and wheat germ, I used the same amount of quick-cooking oats (not cooked). I used equal parts whole wheat and white flour. I really like how the dough came out. For the filling, I was lazy and used store bought preserves from Smuckers. It was the blueberry kind in their more natural line. I baked some on an air-bake pan and some on a regular cookie sheet (which allowed for more browning on the bottom). In the end, I liked the ones from the air-bake pan more, because there was a uniform consistency and softness around the whole bar. Thank you so much for the recipe! I am so glad I found something similar to store bought cereal bars, but with ingredients I can control. :-)

  21. says

    Thanks so much for the great comment Valerie! I’m so glad these worked out well for you. My boys still like these a lot, although you’re right, lately they are making their own snacks while I’m busy with the baby. They come up with some interesting creations, to say the least!

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