Sunday, April 7, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

This week I rediscovered my baking roots, so to speak. After a period of time without a well-functioning oven, I finally have one that works the way it should. Yippee! Needless to say I have been baking and cooking up a storm lately: strawberry dream cake, uber dark chocolate muffins, baked tofu, and a personal fav, homemade granola bars. Yes, I channeled my inner hippie, donned some birkenstocks and socks (just kidding), and made granola.
I actually ended up making two separate batches of granola bars this week, one with nuts and one without. Being a fan of nuts, I would recommend adding them to any homemade bars however going the rice crispies route also works for those out there who have nut allergies. For me, it is really a matter of what I have in the cupboards so I don't have to face the monstrosity of the supermarket again (torture, I swear).
One of the things I am still figuring out is how to keep these bars firm and not have them end up chewy (although some folks love chewy granola bars). Leaving them in the fridge until ready to eat is one way, however it doesn't make it easy for taking these along on a hike. As much as I am not a fan of corn syrup, that may be the way I go next time around.
Both times the bars were well received, much more so with the nut bars. They are great with all sorts of seeds, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate chips, etc. Go wild, let your inner hippie shine a bit, and surprise your pals and kids with the goodness (and ease) of homemade granola. Save the end bits and serve as a yogurt parfait. Enjoy!

Homemade Granola Bars
Adapted from: Inspired Taste

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line bottom and sides of a 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil.

Add oats and walnuts to a small baking sheet then bake 5 minutes, stir and bake another 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine butter, honey, brown sugar and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

Pour butter mixture in to bowl with toasted oats and walnuts. Mix well. Let cool about 5 minutes then add apricots, raisins, cinnamon, and and 1/4 cup of the white chocolate chips. Stir to combine.

Transfer oat mixture to lined pan then use a rubber spatula to firmly press the mixture into the pan. (Press hard here, this way the bars will stay together once cooled and cut).

Scatter remaining 2 tablespoons of white chocolate chips over pressed granola mixture then use a rubber spatula to gently press them into the top. Cover then refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Remove block of granola mixture from pan then peel away aluminum foil. Cut into 12 bars.

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