June 26, 2012

granola bars at last

I can't tell you how many recipes for homemade granola bars I've tried over the past decade. Peanut butter granola bars, chocolate granola bars, healthy granola bars, unhealthy granola bars. We have a serious love of granola bars in our house. They, along with frozen yogurt tubes and popcorn, are my go-to snacks. And of the three, the bars top the list since we are always a-going, and they are the perfect last-minute-throw-them-in-the-bag snack for my constantly hungry children. Unfortunately most of my attempts have ended in one of two ways. Either they are totally inedible, or they are good tasting yet crumble to pieces. Part of the reason I always seem to have a canister of granola floating around. It often starts out it's life trying to be bars only to be crumbled into a jar and tossed on yogurt. (Which isn't a bad thing, of course, but still..)

You'd think I would have given up by now. Really, how hard is it to just buy the silly things. But I have a strange addiction to making things for myself (ricotta anyone?) and so I persist. And finally, finally, I've found a recipe that actually works. Yay!

This started out it's life as "The Sweet Bar" from Homemade Pantry and it's seriously good as it is, but on my second go round I made a few tweaks per the suggestions of Briton (where are the raisins? can they be thicker?) and ended up with a good, solid (not particularly healthy but not horrible) yummy granola bar.

Maple Syrup Granola Bars

1 stick of butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup (or equal amounts of honey and syrup, I've done that one as well)
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins or chopped hazelnuts (or both)

In a pot (or microwavable bowl if you want to use the microwave) melt the butter in with the sugar and syrup (and honey if you are using it)

Stir in the oats, salt and dried fruit and mix then add the puffed rice, 1/2 cup at a time, until you have a nice sticky but slightly spreadable mixture. You don't want it runny, but it shouldn't be a solid mass either.

Press into a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the edges are just barely starting to darken. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool all the way before cutting. I like making 1 inch by 4 inch bars, but squares work too. Whatever floats your boat. We have been keeping these in a lidded Corning-ware pot between sheets of parchment (reused from baking them) and then put what we need for the day in a baggie.

Do you have a granola bar recipe that really, truly works? I'd love to have more recipes for variety.