Monday, August 16, 2010

Granola Bars

I love granola bars. Quaker Oats, Nature Valley. You name it, I probably like it. I've made granola before from Everyday Food. But that was more like bite size crunchies and not so much bars. So, I attempted to make real granola bars, thanks to Ina Garten from Food Network. I actually saw her make these on her show one time and thought they were kind of intensive. But reading over the recipe, it wasn't hard at all.

Homemade Granola Bars

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 Tb. unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped, dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x12" baking dish, line it with parchment paper and butter. Definitely coat your wax paper with cooking spray or butter!

Toss the oatmeal, almonds and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. I left out the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots and cranberries and stir well. I just added dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. I waited a bit for the mixture to cool before adding the chocolate.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

The salvaged granola.

Ok, so mistake #1: I didn't butter the wax paper. I'll admit, that direction, to butter the pan and the lay parchment paper, was a really weird to me. So I ignored it and just laid down wax paper. What ended up happening? The wax paper stuck to the bottom of the granola and I couldn't peel all of it off. I debated about just throwing it all out and starting over. But I decided to salvage whatever granola I could. It's not so pretty, but it sure does taste good.

It is a chewy bar and crunchy on the outside. It is also pretty sweet with the coconut and honey. But I love the cranberry and white chocolate combination. Not sure how healthy this granola bar really is, but it is yummy. Despite the wax paper sticking to the bottom, this is incredibly easy to make. I left it to sit over night and Wes kept asking when he could have some. Oh, did I mention that it makes the house smell amazing?

Of course you can add any fruit or treats you like and leave out what you don't. A fun treat to make. And after Wes did get to have some of the mangled bars, he couldn't stop snacking on them.

Happy cooking!

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