Recently, I’ve been experimenting with different recipes trying to replace prepackaged items which I used to buy (like Macaroni and Cheese, for example). I eat granola bars as snacks at work on a daily basis. They aren’t exactly cheap, and it seems only the pricey ones are halfway good for you. Thus begins my quest to find the ultimate homemade, chewy, granola bar recipe.
I’ve mentioned how much I love Smitten Kitchen before. When she posts a recipe and raves about it, I usually will too! So when she posted about thick, chewy granola bars, I knew I had to try the recipe.
We start with some humble ingredients, and end up with a delicious, chewy result that may very well replace the packaged bars I used to purchase. Seeing as though I have roughly 8 or so purchased boxes on hand, (I stocked up when they were less than $1 a box) it may be awhile until these become a staple in my kitchen. Plus, I think I’ll do some tweaking to find just the right blend of ingredients to suit my tastes.
First, mix together the dry ingredients, until it’s well combined.
Then, you want to melt the butter and mix together the wet ingredients
I ended up a little short on honey (whoops!), so I added maple syrup until I met the full 1/4 cup needed. I didn’t really notice any maple flavor in the final bars, but you might if you substitute all maple syrup instead of honey.
When you whisk it all together, it gets pretty thick because of the peanut butter and honey/syrup.
Now, stir this goo into the dry ingredients. It will take some good mixing to distribute the wet mixture evenly among the dry. It becomes very crumbly, but that’s exactly what you want.
Line a square pan with some parchment paper, and spritz it with a little cooking spray. This will help you lift the bars out of the pan with ease and simplify the whole process. That is, unless you want crumbly bits of granola rather than bars. Use an 8″x8″ pan for thicker bars, or a 9″x9″ for thinner bars. I used a 9″x9″.
Press the mixture into the pan. Make sure that you compact it nicely. Again, you want bars, not crumbles!
It’s done baking when the edges have browned a little and the bars are somewhat firm to the touch.
Cool them in the pan on a wire rack. If you try to cut them before they have cooled completely, they will likely crumble. You can put them in the refrigerator or the freezer to help speed the cooling process.
But do you see what happened to the chocolate chips? They became this chalky, light brown color. And they tasted a bit chalky, too. I think the long baking time changed the properties of the chocolate, and not in a good way. I will likely omit them from future batches. I think next time I will used dried cranberries instead.
Chocolate chips aside, the flavor of these bars is delicious. And the possibilities for the customization of this recipe seem to be endless. As long as you stick with about the same amounts of dry & wet ingredients, you should be good. Enjoy finding the right blend of ingredients for your tastes!
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Mixture will be crumbly. Press into a square pan (8"x8" pan for thicker bars, or a 9"x9" for thinner bars) lined with parchment paper that has been lightly greased. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until edges have turned golden brown. Cool completely in pan. Remove from pan and slice into bars with a serrated knife. Can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator in an airtight container or plastic bag.
*My mix of ingredients: 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/3 cup flax seed, 1/3 cup wheat germ, 1/3 cup sliced almonds, and 1 cup puffed rice cereal. I also suspect that 2-3 cups of my granola recipe would be an excellent fit for these bars.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen