I don't know about you all, but it seems like half of our food budget these days is spent on "healthy" snacks that the kids can bring to school for lunch or after-school sports. Granola bars have long been a favorite of the gang, and with four kids shoving them into their backpacks as they race out the door each morning, we go through a ton of them each week.
I've experimented over the years with making homemade versions, but none have ever turned out that well. They were either so sticky that you felt like you needed a bath after eating one, or so dry and boring that munching on one seemed only a small step removed from strapping on a horse's feed bag for a snack. There had to be a better way……
Thankfully, Emma Christensen at The Kitchn posted a great granola bar framework a few weeks back that I used to guide me through making these tasty morsels. Sticking to her recommendation for using 3 1/2 – 4 cups of dry ingredients for the amount of syrup made here, you can go in all sorts of directions with these things and be assured of a great result. As our gang are chocolate-peanut butter fiends, my course was clear from the get go but if you're a cherry-almond gal, or a pecan-coconut type, I don't want you to feel at all shackled to this recipe, go your own way and craft one to suit your own delicious tastes. Fig season has me thinking of a dried fig and walnut version, what kind of bar would you make?
Cheers – Steve
- 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 cup crispy rice cereal, like Rice Krispies (we used Nature's Path Organic Crispy Rice Cereal)
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Heat the oven to 325℉. Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and pop into the preheated oven to toast for 10 minutes, remove them from the oven to cool but keep the oven on.
- Line an 8"x8" baking pan with parchment, leaving about a 2" overhang on all sides (alternatively, you can use a silicone pan sprayed with a little oil which works beautifully in this type of application). Lightly coat the parchment with cooking spray.
- Mix the oats, cereal, peanuts, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries together in a medium sized bowl.
- In a small saucepan, heat the rice syrup, vanilla extract, peanut butter, cocoa and spices, stirring until it achieves a pourable consistency. Pour the syrup over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to completely coat.
- Dump the mix into the prepared pan and press into place with an offset spatula, or with your hands. If the mix sticks to your hands, spray them lightly with cooking spray before proceeding any further.
- Cook the bars for 20-25 minutes (20 for chewier bars, 25 for crispier), then remove them from the oven to a cooling rack. Press them again with an offset spatula to re-pack them where they might have puffed during baking, and let them cool completely in the pan.
- Once cooled, remove them from the pan by using the parchment paper handles, peel the paper from the bars and cut into whatever size and shape your little heart desires. They will store well in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.