I thought you might be tiring of the same ‘ol descriptive words…amazing or yummy or delicious! So I thought I’d go all crazy and call these granola bars…Most Delicious!
These are SOoooo good that the hardest part is to stop eating the granola mix before you bake it. You know, so you could actually end up eating the finished product!
This recipe is inspired from Smitten Kitchen Thick & Chewy Granola Bars. I really liked how flexible her recipe was but I wanted to try making these without any corn syrup. I also lowered the sugar and omitted the salt so we could be justified when we eat half the granola bars in one sitting! And I require the peanut butter as it really helps the granola bar stay uncrumbly and contributes to the chewiness factor. Plus, I threw in coconut to counteract the lowered sugar.
And oh yeah, these are gluten free!
The list of characters….
Makes 16 granola squares
2 cups quick cooking oats, gluten free if necessary
1/2 – 2/3 cup organic sugar
2 cups nuts (I think slivered almonds are best and very kid friendly…but feel free to shake it up!)
1/2 cup dried fruit (myself, I’m a big cranberry fan)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup ground flax seed (optional)
1/4 cup peanut butter
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp H2O (I do not remember much from chemistry but I love using this abbreviation for water)
a little less than 1 oz of each: honey, maple syrup, and molasses (1/3 cup in total when all three are combined…just fill 1/3 measuring cup up with some of each)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a piece of parchment paper large enough to extend over a 9″x9″ baking pan. You want to be able to use the sides of the parchment paper to lift the baked granola out of the pan prior to cutting.
Place 1/3 cup of the oats into a food processor and chop until the oats reach flour like consistency. You are basically making oat flour. If desired, you could just use store bought oat flour but I like the do-it-yourself method.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oat flour with remaining 1 and 2/3 cups oats and all other dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, peanut butter, water, and the 1/3 cup mixture of honey, maple syrup, and molasses. (I hope the 1/3 cup makes sense…basically just put a tad of each into a 1/3 measuring cup).
Now comes the fun part! Pour the moist ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until well combined. You can use a plastic spatula, wooden spoon, or your hand for this part. I use my hand…easier to eat the stuff as I go along!
Now, STOP eating the granola and leave some for the granola bars!!!
Spread into the buttered parchment paper/baking pan. And then press down the granola with your hands or a large spatula as much as possible. This is really important to help the granola bars stick together. Bake for 20 minutes, until slightly darkened on top. Remove from oven and once again, with a spatula, press the mixture down to help with the adhesiveness.
Do not remove the parchment paper from the pan for at least 30 minutes. This also helps the bars to seal together. And if it’s really humid out, after letting the bars reach room temperature, place them into the fridge and allow to cool further for an hour or so more.
I’m telling you this so Kashi & Nature Valley will be jealous of how well your home made granola bars stay together!
Now, once you are ready to eat these bad boys, use a serrated knife to cut these in a sawing motion. Oh wait, you’ve already stolen a little bite…don’t worry…I have too when they come right out of the oven, but it’ll just be our secret!
Store bars in the refrigerator or freezer in a resealable bag. If frozen, simply allow the granola bar to sit out at room temperature for about 5 minutes. They’ll be cool, calm, and so satisfying!
Also, you can substitute chocolate chips for the dried fruit or drizzle chocolate on top if desired. I’ve found that cranberries and slivered almonds are my favorite way to go. When I’ve tried adding chocolate, the bars were still good but almost a little too rich or intense. So you may want to reduce the peanut butter a little if you add chocolate. Also, if you aren’t into dried fruit or chocolate then feel free to use all nuts. The basic amount is 2 to 3 cups total of nuts and dried fruit.
I’m really not kidding about how addictive these are. It is so hard to eat just one, so hard to put that spoon down once all the ingredients are combined…you just CAN’T STOP! Or, at least I can’t!
I hope ya’ll like these as much as my family does!