There's nothing like being desperate for a breakfast-y snack and having zero breakfast-y snacks in the house, right?!? We thought granola bars would be the perfect grab-n-go snack for our breakfast needs and surely we'd have the stuff to make some up to fulfill our cravings.
However, our cabinets were pretty empty and echo-ey. We were literally scraping the cupboards to find enough ingredients to make this recipe happen. I scoured the internet machine until I found a recipe that seemed easy enough AND we had most of the ingredients for. I have never attempted homemade granola before, so I knew this was going to be iffy. This recipe was adapted from The Smitten Kitchen and thankfully, making granola is very, I repeat, verrryyy forgiving. Compare it to making rice krispy treats. Are you supposed to have exact measurements for those?!? Eek. It really is quite similar. You just need a good balance of chunky to sticky and it will turn out great. I could not believe how yummy these little jewels turned out either. So very similar to our favorite little granola bars we always buy, but way wayyy yummier. The bonus with making them at home, other than the cost and you know exactly what goes into them, is you can make whatever flavors you'd like. Your options are really limitless. Cashew, dried cranberry, dried cherry, chocolate chips, hunks of pecans, hunks of coconut, almonds, what ever your little heart desires. I can't wait to make them again and again.
WHAT YOU NEED: 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (you can even use gluten-free oats) 1/2 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness like most purchased bars; less for a mildly sweet bar) 1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed finely in a food processor or blender until ground - we had neither of these as we used all of our oats up already, so we ground up steel cut oats - worked like a charm) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 to 3 cups (total) dried fruits and/or nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces) 1/3 cup peanut butter (or another nut butter) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, hard to even know it is there) 6 tablespoons melted butter 1/4 cup corn syrup, honey or maple syrup 1 tablespoon water
WHAT TO DO: Preheat oven to 350. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray. Original recipe suggests an 8x8. We used a 10x10 pan and they came out the thickness of a traditional purchased bar. Use what you have. If they are on the thin side, they will bake quicker. Just keep an eye on them.
First things, spread out your oats, coconut, and/or nuts (if you are using those), on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for several minutes. Keep a close eye on the oats and coconut, as they brown pretty quickly. Ours were baked until they were a medium golden color. In a large bowl, combine the big dry ingredients - oats, oat flour, fruit and nuts (we used oats, ground steel cut oats, coconut, chopped walnuts and raisins). Toss to combine.
In a seperate small bowl, melt butter and whisk in vanilla, sugar, salt, cinnamon, peanut butter, corn syrup and water. Pour liquid over dry ingredients and toss to coat until everything is evenly crumbly.
Toss mixture into your prepared pan. Smoosh and press out to evenly spread mixture, filling the whole pan. Lay on a sheet of plastic wrap to press granola down to avoid sticky fingers.
Bake the bars (with plastic wrap removed) for about 30 minutes - adding on 5-10 minutes if they are thicker. It may be a little tricky to check for 'doneness' since we pre-toasted the oats and coconut, but ours had a little bubbly sizzle thing happening across it so we knew it was time to remove.
Let the big sheet of granola cool (we left ours to cool overnight) covered with a few paper towels before cutting. Using a big knife, cut into strips, squares, or whatever shape you'd like.
These are packed with goodness, are very addicting, and will give your jaws a good workout. Warning, it's kind of hard to stop eating them. Mmm. We can't wait to whip up another batch of these, the flavor possibilities are endless.