I’m not a huge fan of granola bars, usually. I find them to be too hard, and they tend to tear up the inside of my mouth. Still, they’re pretty tasty and there’s a lot I like about them aside from the texture. So when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which looks much softer than normal granola bars, I knew immediately that I had to make them.
I filled mine with a lot more nuts and other additives than she did, and left out the coconut completely (yuck – so not my thing). I made a few other changes to her recipe, such as a tad more flour to help bind the bars together better, but really stayed with the spirit of what she had done.
Be inventive with the fillings you add to these bars. They’re yours to customize as you wish. I used almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, and chocolate chips this time. In the past I’ve included wheat germ, dried apples, dried apricots, and dried cranberries. Take a look through your bulk health food aisle for things you may want to include.
(I’m not admitting anything… but I may have put in two extra cups of fillers because the baby has affected my ability to read directions properly. I may have in fact noticed this after I started stirring everything together and tried to pick out nuts, raisins, and chocolate chips only to decide that I was being crazy. Extra fillings just made these extra delicious.)
The only challenging piece of this recipe, and it’s really not that difficult, is getting everything to mix together without spilling oats and sugar all over your kitchen. Once you manage to get it all to combine (stir carefully, I’m not exaggerating), you get this:
40 minutes in the oven, and the bars come out nice and golden brown. The parchment paper does two fabulous things. First, it helps ensure that nothing sticks to the pan. Secondly, and way more importantly, it makes it very, very easy to lift the cooled bars from the pan by providing you with a granola bar sling.
Make sure you let them cool absolutely the whole way before removing them from the pan. I let them sit for about 5 hours before pulling them out. If you take them out while they are warm and try to let them cool on a rack, they will crumble and fall apart. These absolutely need the time to cool in order to remain intact… and this is coming from someone who chronically does not wait for things to cool.
Homemade Granola Bars
1 2/3 cups oats
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat bran flour (I used a heaping 1/3 cup to help bind them together)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 5 cups dried fruits and nuts, chopped (and chocolate chips… chocolate chips never hurt)
1/3 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (can use extra honey)
1 tablespoon water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a square pan with parchment paper and coat with a non-stick spray.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, melted butter, honey, light corn syrup, and water.
4. Carefully mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Pour it into your pan and press it down firmly.
5. Bake the bars for 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges. Be sure to let these bars completely cool before trying to move them. SmittenKitchen recommends transferring them to a cooling rack after 20 minutes, but I really found that to be a disaster. They may take longer to cool in their pan, but they’ll have the support they need to keep them intact.
6. Cut them into bars and serve. I’ve wrapped mine in saran wrap and put them in the freezer, but they also store quite well in a sealed container such as ziploc or tupperware.