I’ve been busy cooking and baking fun things this semester and regret that I have not put more of those items up on our blog. However, I’ve been too busy reading papers. One thing I’ve been making a lot of lately is homemade granola bars. John got me a dehydrator for Christmas and I’ve used it for some things; dried fruits have been on the brain. This recipe is one I adapted from King Arthur Flour online. Granola bars are one of those mass-produced items that are really easy to make on your own, and immensely more satisfying because you can customize them to your liking. For example, the original recipe called for or at least suggested coconut, which I abhor (texture issues). You can do almost whatever you like. I’ve done dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries (hard to find but delicious), mini chocolate chips, almonds, walnuts, white sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and the like. What’s even better is that everyone, including the boys, likes them. I must say a few words about the ingredients. Many granola bar recipes I tried before changing this one and adapting it to my liking contained melted butter whisked together with brown sugar as the sweetening/binding/wet ingredients. I tried it, and it was way too sweet for me. I could not really taste the other ingredients. On a lark, I’d gotten some blue agave nectar when I was at Trader Joe’s (it’s a vegan choice, and although I’m not, I thought I’d mention it for those who are). It has a longer shelf life than honey and does not crystallize like honey does, although you can use it much in the same way. It also has a low glycemic index, so it does not give you a sugar spike like regular granulated sugar would. But you can feel free to use some combination of honey and the other two sweeteners, or even try melted butter (I would suggest about 1/4 cup, or half a stick, for starters). I’ve also used golden syrup, maple syrup (good for fall granola bars, I think), and light corn syrup in a pinch. However, if you can find the blue agave, and the brown rice syrup (I can imagine the latter being delicious on vanilla ice cream) in the natural/organic sections of your supermarket or elsewhere you may indeed find that you have a new fun thing to play with in the kitchen. Blue agave is good on pancakes, french toast, and agave is good in tea and iced tea and more. Ok, on with the recipe!
Homemade Granola Bars
Yield: About 16-20, depending on how big you cut them
1 2/3 cup quick rolled oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 to 1/3 cup organic raw agave nectar (Trader Joe’s sells one for a mere $2.99!)
1/2 tsp. salt (Note: If you used salted nuts, omit salt here)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, optional (I also tried it with ground ginger or nutmeg; equally good)
2 to 3 cups mix of dried fruits and nuts (I commonly used cranberries, blueberries, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds, but think of raisins, prunes, apricots, coconut, pecans–the sky’s the limit.)
- Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment; grease or spray the parchment for easy cutting and removal.
- Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts.
- Add the wet, syrupy sweet ingredients and stir carefully to coat everything; use a wide plastic spatula.
- Spread it out in the pan, patting it down gently so that it is evenly distributed. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, possibly longer depending on your oven, until it is golden brown around the edges.
- Remove it from the oven and loosen the edges. Cool for at least five minutes but not too much longer.
- Cut the bars while they’re still warm, in the pan, then remove, carefully, using the overhanging parchment, and cool completely on a wire rack.
Note: These will keep covered, in an airtight container, for up to a week. However, they won’t last that long, trust me. If you can’t get them cut evenly, don’t fret. Broken up granola is good with yogurt, ice cream, fruit, or by itself in your greedy hands.