Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chewy Granola Bars

I know, I know, I've abandoned you guys for way too long. See, being in the marching band has one major perk: free football tickets. Including the bowl game. Including transportation and hotel and meals. So yeah, spending New Year's in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl? Sorry, you'll just have to get over the lack of posts, I was a little busy!

But you know what any 5000 hour bus trip needs? Snacks. Lots of snacks. Hence granola bars. I love granola bars anyway, but man, make 'em yourself, and they're like crack.

I've had that thing for years, and this is the first time I have a use for it!
I discovered this recipe about a year ago, when I had something I needed to get rid of, oatmeal, honey, who knows. I fell in love with the bars, and have been messing with them ever since. I love making up a batch or two and tossing one in my bag before class, or bringing them with hiking. I just cut them up into squares, (I tried bars once, and they just crumbled, it was a mess) wrap them up in plastic wrap, and they'll last a while, or they freeze well.

But what's my favorite thing about this recipe? I'll give you a hint, what's ALWAYS my favorite part about recipes? They're super tasty, and you can do whatever you want with them! You can pick what kinds of dried fruit or nuts or whatnot you want in them, you can modify the amount of sugar depending on how sweet you want them and how sweet the stuff you put in is, you can put in your favorite sweetener (I wouldn't even think of making granola bars without honey!) and you can make them as healthy or as junky as you want! In my book, that makes a good recipe!

Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 2/3 cups oatmeal
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you want and what else you put in
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oatmeal in a food processor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups stuff*
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

*Stuff - nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, anything you want! I used a good handful of chocolate chips, an good dose of pecans, and at least a cup coconut. I think the coconut is what really makes the flavor so great.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the stuff. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in a greased 8x8 pan, pressing firmly.Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan, but they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Once cooled completely, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan further in the fridge for 30 minutes, then cut them cold.

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