the little she loves them.
i have been craving them like crazy (pregnancy does that to you, apparently).
but store bought granola bars have so much unwanted junk in them, i wanted to make my own version. and when it comes down to it, it is WAY more cost effective to home-make your own.
so of all the versions i entertained, this one was my favorite. you can make this recipe super simple & basic or you can have a little bit of fun with it. the vanilla & the cinnamon are both optional and the nuts can be replaced with more dried fruit. the options really are endless!
this recipe is from king arthur flour, via the smitten kitchen. (it is a super flexible recipe and if you go to her site, you can find a few more ideas on making it lots of different ways.)
homemade chewy granola bars
1 2/3 cups oats
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness like store bought bars, less for a mildly sweet bar.)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats processed until finely ground in food processor)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 – 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10-15 ounces; also, i ground the nuts a bit in the food processor, since kids would be eating them)
1/3 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
1 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tbsp water
1. preheat the oven to 350. line a pan (one 8x8x2 or 2 bread loaf pans; i actually used a 9×13 rimmed cookie sheet – depends on how thick you want your bars) in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed part of the pan with butter or cooking spray.
2. stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruits & nuts. in a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, honey, and water. toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if using) until the mixture is evenly crumbly (see this “mixing with your hands” cooking tip
). spread into prepared pan, pressing mixture in firmly to ensure they mold to the shape of the pan.
3. bake the bars for 20-35 minutes – depending on the thickness of your bars (mine, being pretty thin, took about 25 minutes) – until they are brown around the edges. don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops. they’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan, but don’t worry, they’ll set once completely cool.
4. cool the bars on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars from the pan and cool another 10-15 minutes in the parchment on the rack. transfer back to the pan or cookie sheet and put in the fridge to cool further, about 30 minutes. this will help the bars set completely and not be as crumbly. once cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares or rectangles. to store, wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge (they do best in the fridge instead of out on the counter).
suggestions for fruit & nut mixture:
dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots, raisins, pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pepitas, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, dried apples, rice krispies, wheat germ, chocolate or peanut butter chips.