granola bars
August 21, 2012, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Breakfast, Easy but not quick, Fruit, Grains, Nibbles, Technique | Tags: , , ,

I have a son who is very health conscious. He rides his bike 25-30 miles every morning before he goes to class (he’s studying to be a computer engineer), and likes to eat whole-grain high quality food with plenty of protein goodness that doesn’t have anything in it he can’t pronounce.  Like me, he thinks store bought granola bars taste stale and weird.

So,a while back (maybe a year ago?) in the interest of making it myself, I took to investigating recipes. I’d never made granola bars before. The recipe I like is Alton Brown’s (seriously, I never met a recipe of his I *didn’t* like!), so I made them.

Gonna make me some GRANOLA BARS!

Only…too much honey. We’re not fond of a heavy honey flavor. Also…butter. Animal fats are supposed to be bad for you. I needed a non animal fat that wasn’t shortening (thus hydrogenated). Also…I didn’t have any sunflower seeds. A seed is a seed is a seed. How about a grain instead? I know! Quinoa! it gives a great crunch and it’s high in protein!  And…I don’t have enough sliced almonds. I’ll used 1/2 sliced almonds and 1/2 whole. Who doesn’t like whole almonds?

So, I ended up altering the bejeejums out of his recipe and totally kind of almost made it my own.  So be it.  Also? I doubled it. A 9×9 [an of granola bars would last about 10 minutes here. And I used a jellyroll pan, which makes for kind of thin bars, that bake nicely. And cranberries, because that’s what I had. And 1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts left over from something else because WHY NOT!?

Granola Bars

preheat the oven to 350 degrees

4 cups rolled whole oats

1 cup quinoa, rinse (quinoa has a naturally occurring resin-like coating that rinses off. It’s not poisonous, but has a bitter flavor)

1 cup each sliced and whole almonds (or 2 cups sliced, or any other assortment of nuts. Walnuts would be lovely!)

grainy nutty goodness

Mix all this together in a big bowl. Put on a couple of cookie sheets or roasting pans or whatever, and bake for 15 minutes, until it all starts to smell a little toasty.

Reduce the oven to 300 degrees.

In a pot, mix together

1 cup dark corn syrup*

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil**

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

tasty sweet syrupy stuff!

Bring this to a very slight simmer over medium heat on the stove- just so it’s starting to bubble around the edges and the brown sugar is dissolved.

In a great big bowl, mix together the toasty stuff from the oven, and 2 cups of dried fruit. I used cranberries. Raisins would be nice, so would dried blueberries, or apricots, or cherries, or a blend of stuff. 2 cups worth, tho.

Daisy, ever hopeful that something will be dropped, so she can assist in the cleanup. Good dog.

Pour the liquid sugar mix over the oats and stuff, and stir it in so everything is well coated and you don’t have any dry things. It will be lovely and sticky!

Smells GREAT!

Use a bit of coconut oil to grease a big jellyroll pan. I used a 10×14 stonewear pan, but metal or glass is fine. If you don’t have a pan that big with a lip,you can pat it out on a flat cookie sheet, since it won’t spread while it’s baking.

This is a Pampered Chef stoneware jellyroll pan.

Dump the mixture in the pan and spread it out evenly. Press it down with greased hands or a spatula.

Mash it in good. (That’s Southern for “press it in firmly”)

Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, until it starts to brown and smells lovely.

remove from the oven and press it down again. I used the flat bottom of a skillet to mash it, it’s hot so you probably don’t want to use your hands.  Let it cool for about 5 minutes, then carefully flip it over onto a piece of foil and it *should* drop onto it (if the pan was well greased). Let it cool a while longer then cut it into bars.

All bagged up!

*I used dark corn syrup this time. Then I made another batch and didn’t have enough corn syrup, so I used 1/2 cup of corn syrup (all I had!) and 1/2 cup of plum jelly. I like the jelly idea and will probably use it again, because I get many jars of plum jelly every Summer and we aren’t really jelly eaters around here.
**coconut oil adds a nice delicate coconut flavor to the bars. You can also use plain vegetable oil or butter. I wouldn’t use olive oil. Wrong sort of flavor.

If you like, add a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.

Use any sort of nuts! Play around with the fruits, add MORE if you want to! In the second batch, that I used the plum jelly in, I scrounged the pantry and found many bags of dried fruits that didn’t have enough of anyone kind for a recipe of anything, but all together made about 3 cups worth, so I made extra fruity bars with walnuts and no quinoa…they have currants, cherries and cranberries.
The main thing is the technique and proportion of syrupy stuff to dried oaty stuff. Mash it all firmly into the pan before and after baking, let them cool before cutting, that sort of thing.


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