Monday, March 1, 2010
I love to make homemade crunchy granola, but it's not really a food that travels well. As we prepared to go away for the weekend, I decided to give homemade granola bars a try. The good thing about homemade granola or granola bars is that you can fill them with whatever you like. Choose your favorite fruits, seeds and nuts; experiment with different combinations. For my chewy granola bars, I went with raisins, apricots, almonds, flax seed, unsweetened coconut and sunflower seeds. I also added some sea salt for a salty-sweet taste that's great any time of day.
A few tips: pack them into the pan well. They'll "stick" together a little better if you use quick oats, but I prefer less-processed old-fashioned oats. If you like sweeter granola bars, add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar to what I list below. The fruit adds some sweetness, as does the nut butter, but do what tastes good to you.
Chewy granola bars
adapted from kingarthurflour.com
1 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar, optional (see "tips" at right)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup quick oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
2-2 1/2 cups dried fruits and nuts*
1/3 cup peanut or almond butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, then lightly grease the pan.
Toss together all the dry ingredients, including the fuit and nuts.
In another bowl, mix the melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla, and water.
Toss the wet ingredients with the dry and stir in the nut butter. Combine until well-mixed and crumbly. Turn the mixture into the pan and pat it evenly in the bottom of the pan, pressing down. (If it's sticky, use a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper.)
Bake for 30 minutes, or until edges are browned.
Use a knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars while they're still warm in the pan. Carefully remove warm bars from the pan, and cool on a rack. Alternatively, remove from the pan before cutting into bars; it helps to cut in half first, then loosen the bottom of each half with a turner/spatula before turning out onto a sheet of parchment to cut into bars.
Wrap bars individually to store in plastic wrap or waxed paper; or place in a single layer on a plate, and cover with plastic; or store in layers with parchment in between. In humid weather, it's best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
*I used 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, 1/2 cup rasins, 3/4 cup chopped almonds, 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and a couple tablespoons flax seed.