When I was a kid, my mom used to pack Quaker Oats chewy granola bars in my lunch for a treat. Stuffed with chocolate or dried fruit bits, these bars were highly coveted in the lunch room because they tasted like candy and had a good trade value. I’m talking Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, real prime goods.
I recently revisited those granola bars in search of a tasty yet healthy snack, and was knocked on my ass by all the sugar. I couldn’t even taste the oats in the the granola bar, you know, the MAIN ingredient? I threw the whole box away–no, I was not going to donate that shit to charity. I care about poor people’s health.
More food porn and the recipe after the jump.
What I really like about this recipe is how customizable it is. If you like your bars sweeter, add more sugar. Use any kind of nut butter you like (I used peanut butter the first time around, and pistachio butter the second time). Use any sort of chunky ingredients you like, anything from flax seed to dried fruits, candies to chocolate, almonds to peanuts, crisp rice cereal to coconut, pretty much anything.
I’ve even made protein bars from the recipe by substituting most of the oat flour for chocolate protein powder you buy from the health food store. My husband eats these before he works out and pays $5 for 6 bars at the store (they almost always contain ingredients I can’t pronounce). These bars are much cheaper, I can control what goes in them, and they are easy to make.
Let’s talk a bit about granola method, shall we? Dump dry ingredients in a bowl. Add sticky. Stir. Press into a square cake pan that is well oiled and lined with a well-oiled piece of parchment hanging over the sides for easy removal. Press again. And maybe once more. Bake, cool, refrigerate, cut with serrated while cold and store at room temp, in fridge or in freezer.
So let’s review–if you can stir, dump and press, you can make these bars.
For the second bar, I used pistachio butter, and here is a little tip–don’t buy nut butters other than peanut from the store. You are guaranteed to get riped off along the lines of $8 for a tiny, 4 oz jar of pistachio butter. To make your own, buy the nuts (almonds, pistachios, whatever). Toast them in a low (200 degree F) oven until they are lightly brown and smell nice, then whirl them in your food processor with a bit of powdered sugar, and, if you need it, a tiny bit of water. Instant nut butter.
Recipe: Leena’s Kick-Ass Granola Bars
Summary: This recipe was inspired by one found on Smitten Kitchen and the King Arthur Flour website.
- 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (gluten-free oats can be substituted)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
- 1/3 cup oat flour (1/3 cup oats, whirled till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 cups of chunky stuff, like dried fruit and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)–I used dark chocolate chips, coconut, crisp rice cereal and flaked almond
- 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–I used honey
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare an 8×8 cake pan by rubbing it with oil, laying down parchment that overlaps on the side, and oiling the parchment.
- In a large bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except for the nut butter. Mix the wet and the nut butter with the dry until mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread into prepared pan, and press firmly down so the mixture forms bars and adheres to the pan’s shape.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly brown, and it’s okay to let it get fairly brown–that equals more flavor. The center may seem soft when finished, but they should come together completely when cooled. Cool to room temperature, then place in fridge to complete cooling process.
- Once cool, cut the bars into your desired squares or rectangles. Store at room temp in an airtight container, or if humid, in the fridge. Also stores well in freezer.
*Can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free oats *Can substitute protein powder for oat flour to make protein bars
Microformatting by hRecipe.