Thick, Chewy Granola Bars

Yield: 16 squares Active time: 20 minutes Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes February 5, 2012

I made these granola bars a lot when I was home on maternity leave. It could be hard on those long, sleepless days to get a meal in, but these were easy to grab and eat with one hand while holding a dozing baby in the other.

Chose whatever fruits and nuts you like best, and these will quickly become a favorite snack.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed in a food processor or blender until finely ground)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 oz.)*
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
  • 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1 Tbs. water

*Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried pples or even chocolate chips. Smitten Kitchen's mix: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350º. Line an 8x8x2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, 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 the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to fully set, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

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