Everything but the kitchen sink granola bars (or granola bites)
Before I even started writing this post, I thought of at least 3 people who will probably tease me about making my own granola bars. You know who you are. But you go ahead and laugh while I eat.
The thing I like the most about these granola bars or bites is that you can be totally flexible with the fruits and nuts you add. It’s kind of a “kitchen sink” sort of recipe. I originally saw a granola bar post at the Obsessed with Baking blog. I used the basics of that recipe and added my own things to it. As long as you have 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of nuts, you can pretty much use what you like. These are really tasty! I cut them into squares because they ended up so thick, but I’ve been eating at least 2 squares every time I open the container, so I would have saved myself the trouble if I had left them as bars. I also just crumbled some up and it makes a nice snack mix. I will tell you that they are very chewy the first night, but the next day they took on a crunchier bite. I wouldn’t say they aren’t chewy any more, but they hardened up a little and have a more solid texture. They’re good both ways.
I will definitely make these again, but I’m going to cut back a little on the sugar and corn syrup. As tasty as these granola bars are, they’re just a bit too sweet. Or, the extra sweetness may be coming from my Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter – I’ll have to work on figuring that out for next time. Not that it’s stopping me from grabbing a granola bar every time I walk past the counter, but I’d like to tweak it a little bit.
*****Update: After three days, these are REALLY hard. I’ve chopped them up and we’re eating it all as a snack mix. Still tasty, but a lot crunchier. Watch your teeth if you’re trying to bite into a bar.*********
Recipe: Granola Bars
1 c. chopped nuts or seeds (I used pepitos, almonds, and flax seeds)
1 c. dried fruit, chopped (I used cranberries, raisins, and papaya)
2 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
2 c. puffed brown rice cereal (I used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Rice Puffs)
1/2 c. natural peanut butter (Yea – another way to use my White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter)
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. white chocolate chips, optional*
Toast the nuts, seeds, and cereals in a 350 degree oven until they are lightly golden, about 10-15 minutes, but watch it since oven temperatures vary. Pour into a large bowl with the dried fruits.
Stir together the peanut butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a microwavable bowl and heat on high until mixture bubbles, about 1 1/2-2 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the fruit and cereal and mix thoroughly.
*I added the white chocolate chips in after it had cooled a little, but before I pressed it into the pan. The mixture was still warm enough to melt the chips though, so I doubt I’d bother trying to add these in the next time.
Press the mixture into a 9×13″ pan coated with cooking spray. I found it helpful to lay a piece of waxed paper over the whole thing and press it down that way. Allow the granola bars to cool completely, then turn out onto counter and cut into bars with a pizza cutter or crumble into a bowl.