It honestly never occurred to me to try to make something like granola bars at home. After all, there are tons of yummy, conveniently packaged bars on the shelves at the grocery store. But yesterday I was really in the mood to bake, but I'm trying to limit junk food so I knew that a weeknight brownie or cookie binge would be out of the question. I had spotted this recipe for peanut butter granola on Everybody Likes Sandwiches a few weeks ago and it had been on my mind ever since. I originally planned to make that, but then decided I was more in the mood for something with nuts and fruit. I went to the Food Network website and found Alton Brown's recipe for granola bars. I am not a fan of Alton Brown's Good Eats, but I've yet to encounter one of his recipes that I didn't like. (My brother-in-law makes Alton's awesome soft pretzels and I'm hoping he'll make them again soon so I can get them on the blog!)
Score another for Alton. THIS is why it's worth it to make granola bars at home. These are so, so good. Shortly after baking (because who can ever wait to "cool completely?") they were soft and chewy, but once cooled they are nice and crisp. The honey and brown sugar adds the right amount of sweetness to complement the hearty crunch of the oats and nuts. I made a few changes to the original recipe that are reflected in the recipe below. I did not have sunflower seeds, nor do I really like them, so I added 1/2 cup of Fiber One cereal in their place and I really liked the way it worked in with the granola. I used a mix of sliced and whole almonds and used craisins and raisins for my fruit. I also used quick-cooking oats rather than old-fashioned rolled oats and they were fine.
I can't wait to make these again. And I can't wait to eat the one I brought to work for my afternoon snack...
Butter flavored cooking spray
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup Fiber One cereal
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-ounce unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped dried fruit (I used raisins and craisins)
Spray a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the oats, Fiber One, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.