The first time I laid eyes on these, I knew I had to give them a try. What's even better is that it comes at a time when I am trying to get back to homemade, healthier foods especially for the kids. During my pregnancy I fell into old habits out of convenience and I am looking to get back to being more intentional about what I am feeding my kids. Now this particular recipe isn't the healthiest one out there, but I know what is in them and that is more than I can say for the boxed version. For those of you who don't care about that kind of stuff can I just say these are worth trying if for no other reason then that they are absolutely delicious. Hands down better than anything you could buy at the store!
Here is the recipe as I followed it:
Thick Chewy Granola Bars
1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/2 c and that was plenty)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (optional)**
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
*I used 1 cup blueberry craisins, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
**For this batch I omitted the peanut butter...what can I say, I hate peanut butter and I wanted to try some for myself;)
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8x2 pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
-Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts (I pulsed the fruits and nuts in my food processor for smaller pieces but you can leave yours chunky if you like it that way).
-In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners 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 them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
-Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
-Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
-Once cool, a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
Next I am going to try them with almonds, coconut, white chocolate chips and dried bananas. I would also like to try substituting peanut butter for homemade applesauce or mashed bananas. I would love to hear the variations you think sound good so feel free to share.