I have had this recipe bookmarked for a few months now…and couldn’t seem to get around to actually MAKING it. Yesterday I came across it again and decided it was time. After all the feasting on Christmas goodies….I was more than ready for something a little healthier.
Granola bars are one of my absolute favorite snack foods. Especially chewy granola bars. They are so handy to have around when a hunger attack sneaks up and hits you out of the blue. Or for a midnightish snack (like I’m having now!)
And for our family they are a WIN-WIN-WIN!
Win #1. Naturally gluten-free if you use GF oats. (Our 16 year old has Celiac’s)
Win #2. Good for you! (who couldn’t use that after the holidays!?)
Win #3. DELICIOUS!
Seriously, they may LOOK like some sort of bird seed cake….but they are so tasty…and so easy to make. The recipe I used is from SmittenKitchen.com. If you look closely you can see a picture of HER bars in the picture on my laptop/recipe book. (So there you are looking at YOUR computer screen, looking at MY computer screen, while I look at HER computer screen! WEIRD!)
Don’t be intimidated by all the ingredients! The only things I needed to go to the store for were the nuts/seeds and dried fruit. I had the rest in my pantry…and I bet you do too.
Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
adapted from SmittenKitchen.com
1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use GF oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 3/4 cup which was ALMOST perfect. I think I’ll add just a bit more next time. I like my granola a little sweeter…like just about everything else!)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed in food processor or blender…I used the blender. Much easier than hauling out the food processor.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (I used cranberries, coconut, sunflower seeds and almonds in an attempt to replicate my favorite store bought bars, Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Bars, Fruit and Nut. I also chopped up the almonds in the blender.)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used Skippy creamy peanut butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I used Log Cabin maple syrup)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan (mine was more like 11″ x 7″) with parchment paper, leaving a couple of inches on each end to hang over the side of the pan. Lightly grease with non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, honey/syrups and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing in firmly! Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re just brown around the edges.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Ooops…missed the cooling rack part!) Once COMPLETELY COOLED take out of pan, peel off parchment paper and cut into squares. If they are still a bit crumbly…put in fridge for 30 mins, then cut them. Store in airtight container.
As you can see, I started out cutting them into squares….but decided to cut them smaller. I think these are the perfect “snack” size.
Other ingredient suggestions: Dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried apples or even chocolate chips.
So far everyone who has tasted them in this house has loved them! This includes the typically non-granola-eating people. They are soooooooo much better than the stuff you buy in boxes at the store…and don’t get me started on how much CHEAPER they are to make!
OK…too late…I’m started! A box of 6 of my favorite granola bars costs about $3.50 a BOX at the store! I figure this recipe makes the equivalent of 5 or 6 BOXES for not much more than that!
Once again…the “homemade version” beats the “store-bought version” HANDS DOWN and for a fraction of the price. :-)