Alright health food nuts, this ones for you! I don’t know about you but I whole heartedly adore granola, whether is big, gooey bars for a mid day snack or crumbled up in my yogurt for breakfast it’s something I pretty much eat on a daily basis. Only problem is, majority of the stuff tastes like cardboard and the brands that are half way decent cost and arm and a leg. I don’t know about you, but these days I’m saving every penny I can get my hands on so thus began my mission…to create homemade granola bars that aren’t just budget friendly but flavor packed as well. Yes my friends, this is what granola is supposed to taste like!
This is probably the most adaptable recipe you can find out there, and where you can get your creative juices flowing! Experiment each time you make these with different types of nuts, dried fruits, chocolates, etc. Let your mind run wild and make a different batch each week! Also important to note is that these bars freeze wonderfully.
Ooey, Gooey, Granola Bars
Makes 10 bars
1 2/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (now don’t go out and buy a bag of oat flour, simply put 1/3 cup of oats in the food processor or blender and process until finely ground)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
3 cups of dried fruits and nuts (my mix is 1 cup of chopped pecans, 1 cup dried cranberries, ½ cup sunflower seeds and ½ cup of semi sweet chocolate chips)
1/3 cup peanut butter (or almond butter or nutella, whatever you have on hand)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons of melted butter
¼ cup of honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I use honey)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 350° and line a 9x9 baking ban with a piece of parchment paper making sure the ends go all the way up the walls of the pan, then coat the pan with non stick cooking spray. This will help easily remove the bars from the pan once they are cooled.
Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl, including the dried fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl combine the peanut butter, vanilla, melted butter, honey or maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of corn syrup and water then whisk until well incorporated. Toss the wet ingredients in with the dry and combine until the ingredients are well coated and the mixture is nice and crumbly. Spread mixture into prepared pan and press firmly. I cover mine with a piece of plastic wrap first so as to keep the mixture in the pan and not all over my hands.
Pop the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the edges are nice a brown. Don’t be afraid to get a little color on these, it’s a sign that your nuts are getting nice and toasty…just make sure you don’t go too far and burn them. I find 40 minutes works perfect for my oven. The middle will seem a little under done when you take them out but don’t worry, they will firm up as they cool.
Now this is the hard part because they smell so good, let the bars cool in their pan on a cooling rack completely. This means at least 2 hours. However after about 30 minutes you can grab the edges of your parchment and lift the bars out of the pan to continue cooling. You want your bars to be completely room temperature before cutting into them, in fact I even pop mine into the fridge for a good 30 minutes just to be sure. Using a serrated knife, cut into desired sizes, if they start to crumble they’re not completely cool pop ‘em back in the fridge and try again in 15 minutes.
To store wrap bars individually in wax paper or stack in an airtight container. For us Florida folks I recommend keeping them in the fridge cause of all the humidity but those in cooler climates should be fine with leaving them out.