I started making granola bars a couple of years ago for homemade holiday treats – everyone I give these to loves them, and I do too. Really delicious, but a very sweet candy-like bar, not an “I’m on a diet so I only eat low fat, low sugar granola bars” kind of bar. For an occasional sweet treat, though, these meet my approval. They are made of real food! Oatmeal, coconut, nuts, dried fruit, honey and butter. All good when eaten separately, GREAT when mixed together. And they smell wonderful!
Now, granola bars are basically granola plus a binder. And granola is whatever you want it to be. Typically there are oats, and I have tried both the expensive brands of rolled oats like Arrowhead Mills and the cheap store brands, and in granola it really doesn’t make much difference, in my opinion. However in oatmeal – as in the hot cereal -the pricey brands are worth it, so I save my fancy oats for oatmeal, and buy the cheap kind of old fashioned oats when I make granola. My daughter loves oatmeal, which she called ‘oakmeal’ when she was younger. I remember once making instant brown sugar oatmeal, and her returning the bowl, saying that “These oaks aren’t very good.” She is a bit of an oatmeal snob.
So I think any granola recipe would work, just add the binder – with one note – don’t add sugar or oil when you make the granola. There is plenty of sweet and fat in the binder. You could also use store-bought granola and just not worry too much about the extra sweetness. If you go that route, based on adding up the quantities in the recipe below, you would need about 4 cups of granola. If you want to add your own mix-ins, just subtract their amount from the granola. Say you wanted to add pecans – add one cup pecans so use 3 cups granola. Theoretically. I have never done it this way but it should work. If anyone tries this, come back and leave a comment telling us how it worked out.
These are a soft chewy bar, not a crunchy dry bar.
Sticky Chewy Honey Butter Homemade Granola Bars
Makes one 8″ square pan of granola bars – how many bars depends on how you cut them up In the pictures I am making a double batch for a bake sale, so I used a 9×13 pan and it worked out fine.
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 c shredded coconut
1 cup dried fruit
optional: up to 1 cup seeds (sesame, flax, sunflower – any that strike your fancy, or all)
1/2 c honey
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 t salt
First start the granola – it will take a while to get really toasty. Heat the oven to 350F. Toast the oats on their own for about 15 minutes, then add the nuts and coconut, and the seeds if you are using them, and toast for another 15 minutes or so. Set the timer to remind you to stir/check the mixture every 5 minutes. It tastes best if you get it really golden brown and toasty, but the coconut and nuts can burn if you forget and leave it for even a few minutes. Add the fruit after you finish toasting the oat mixture.
When the toasting is complete, put all into a large heatproof bowl. Metal would be the safest, as we will be adding hot sugar syrup to the mixture.
While the granola is toasting in the oven, you can start cooking the honey butter to bind the bars together – or if you are using store bought granola just go straight to this step.
In a medium sauce pan, stir together the ingredients for the binder. Here they are again.
1/2 c honey
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 t salt
Bring to a boil over low-medium heat, and allow to cook at a low boil, gently, for 5 minutes or so. If it doesn’t boil long enough, the bars will still be delicious, but may fall apart a bit. We are caramelizing the sauce somewhat, I guess. I told you, these are candy-like 😉
Take the honey mix off the heat and let it cool a little, 5 minutes or so. PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS STUFF – IT IS A 3RD DEGREE BURN WAITING TO HAPPEN – NO KIDS SHOULD BE UNDERFOOT WHEN YOU ARE COOKING THIS OR POURING THE SYRUP INTO THE BOWL. OK, I’m serious, just be careful.
Pour the syrup onto the granola and turn and stir until it is well covered.
Pour mixture into an 8 inch square pan, lined with plastic wrap. In this picture I have the pan lined with foil, because I ran out of plastic wrap – oops! I do NOT recommend the foil – it is very sticky and hard to remove. Definitely run to the store and get plastic wrap before you get started. Waxed paper will not work either.
Put a sheet of plastic wrap over the top, then press down firmly until the stuff is flat and packed into the pan. Pay special attention to pressing around the edges – it will be crumbly there when you cut them up if it is not pressed down well.
Let the mixture cool for several hours or overnight. Cool it in the fridge if you are in a hurry.
Lift the whole slab out of the pan onto a cutting surface and remove the plastic wrap. Cut the bars with a big heavy knife in whatever shapes you like – I usually do bar shapes, but for the bake sale I did squares.
It is worth the trouble to wrap each bar with plastic wrap, so you can grab one and slip it in your pocket. Much better than fast food when you are caught away from home and longing for a snack.
These bars went out to the Arkansas Food Blogger Bake Sale, which will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Here is the official bake sale page.
The sale will be held adjacent to the Argenta Certified Arkansas Farmers’ Market
7th and Main, North Little Rock, on Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry, so if you are in the central part of the state, please go there and buy generously.
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