Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Homemade Granola Bars
I've been on a quest (word of the day on Sesame Street yesterday) to make homemade granola bars. My early attempts were taking my granola and trying to make it bar form during the baking process - didn't work. My next attempts were during my no sugar kick and the wet ingredients that were supposed to glue the bars together were insufficient and I ended up with a crumbly mess - not even great as granola.
I came across this online and my first batch was great. The method of toasting the dry, boiling the wet, and combining to cool worked well and I think that even if I change the ingredients, I'll stick with that method for awhile.
I have to admit that I wasn't super excited about the sugar and butter in the recipe, but I decided it was much better than buying granola bars, which I've been doing lately. The ingredients are really inexpensive for the amount of bars you can make and you know what all the ingredients are. Did you know that a Quaker Chewy Granola Bar contains "partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oils, tocopherol, caramel color, artificial flavor, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, BHT" among other ingredients? The Nature's Path Organic Cranberry Ginger bars I've been buying don't have scary stuff in the ingredient list (tapioca syrup and acacia gum are the weirdest ones) but are much more expensive.
One other benefit of making your own is that you're avoiding all the packaging that comes with individually wrapped treats and helping the environment. Does anyone else use reusable snack bags like these? I'm thinking of investing in some.
I'll probably make some changes to this recipe to continue reducing the sugar without compromising the texture of the bar. They tasted really sweet to me this time around, but maybe it was just compared to those carrot oatmeal cookies. I'd also like to try crushed almonds in place of the peanuts for a different flavor (although my husband loves peanuts and loved them this way). Coconut and flaxseed would also be good additions.
Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts, crushed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
approximately 8 oz. dried fruit (I used raisins, apricots, and cranberries)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with a large piece of parchment paper or waxed paper and spray it with cooking spray.
Combine the first 4 ingredients and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes. Don't let it burn!
Put the sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil stirring constantly.
When the toasted dry ingredients are done, stir them with the wet ingredients (the glue of the granola bars) and and dried fruit. Stir really well so it all gets moist. Spread it in the prepared pan and put another piece of parchment or waxed paper on top (or if your piece was big enough, fold it so it covers the top of the bars. Press down hard to make sure the ingredients are all compacted. I used a measuring cup and pressed it down all over the bars.
Let it completely cool (this is the hardest part - my kitchen smelled so good!). Then pull them out by the waxed paper and put them on a cutting board. Slice into the size granola bars you want. Keep in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers or individually wrap them in plastic to take them with you.