Yes, I know can buy them, but I am starting to think maybe you shouldn't. I've seen lots of recipes for these but nothing looked as promising until I found one a few months ago that I knew I had to make. So I promptly filed it away and forgot about it, until this week. Why did I wait so long? These granola bars are a snap to make and taste better than any prepackaged variety I've ever had. And flexible. You can modify the recipe to suit your tastes so long as you keep the balance of ingredients stable so they hold together. But even if they don't they will still be amazing.
I made some with lots of peanuts, unsweetened coconut, honey, raisins and puffed rice for snack time at pre-k this week. Yes, the kids liked them, but it was the teachers who informed me I was not allowed back into the classroom until I brought in the recipe. They kept all of the leftovers and told me that they kids were lucky they got any in the first place.
I think you'll like them too.
Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
King Arthur Flour as adapted by Deb Perlman
This is an extremely flexible recipe. When it comes to granola, what you’re looking for is a basic proportion of chunky (nuts, dried fruit) to sticky (syrups, sugar, butter or oils) and from there, you can really go to town. The vanilla is optional. The cinnamon is optional. You can use no dried fruit or you can use all dried fruit in your 2 to 3 cup mix. You can toss in things like puffed rice cereal or flax seeds.
1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
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 and or puffed grains (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ 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. 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. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
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 (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. [Updating to note, as many had crumbling issues:] 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.
*Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, drieda pples or even chocolate chips.