I have a confession to make. I’m kind of a breakfast snob. I don’t really like cereal and would much rather have bacon and cheese scones or baked oatmeal for breakfast every day. Let’s face it, though. Cooking something for breakfast isn’t always an option, especially with a busy little baby who’s ready to play as soon as her dad leaves for work. There are times I wake up so hungry (thanks to Clara going through a growth spurt) that I need something to eat like right this second. Know what I mean? That’s where these handy little granola bars come in. They’re way better than cereal, and I can just grab them out of the refrigerator to eat as soon as I come downstairs. Total win.
I’ve been hesitant to make my own granola bars, mainly because the store-bought ones I’ve had kind of sucked. I like granola and oatmeal, so in theory I should like granola bars too. I should’ve known it would take a homemade version to win me over. When Tara posted this recipe, I saved it but didn’t feel the urge to make it right away. That all changed when I went to her house a few weeks ago to visit some of my blogging girlfriends (more on that soon) and ate these while there. They were knock-your-socks-off delicious, which is saying a lot for a food that can be pretty boring. The morning I flew home, I had one bar at her house and another in the car on the way to the airport. They’re ridiculously addictive, and I was craving them so much once I got home that I had to make a batch right away. After making and devouring that batch, I made a double batch last weekend. Yes, I made three batches of granola bars in a week’s time. That speaks volumes to how good these are. Oh, they’re also totally customizable. I followed Tara’s lead and used a combination of dried dates, sweetened flake coconut and chocolate chips, but I’m already imagining a holiday version with dried cranberries, orange zest and walnuts.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: 16 2-inch bars
1⅔ cups oats (quick-cooking or old fashioned)
½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar (use less for a mildly sweet bar; omit altogether if your add-ins are super sweet)
⅓ cup oat flour (or ⅓ cup oats, finely ground in a food processor or blender)
2 tablespoons finely ground flax seed (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, coconut, seeds, etc. (total of 10 to 15 ounces)
⅓ cup peanut (or other nut) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons corn syrup
Heat oven to 350º. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment, leaving an overhang of a couple inches on two opposite sides of the pan. Lightly grease the foil/parchment and exposed sides of the pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, sugar (if using), oat flour, flax, salt, cinnamon and any dry add-ins. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, vanilla, melted butter, honey and corn syrup until a smooth mixture forms. Immediately pour this mixture into the bowl with the oats, and use a rubber spatula to combine. Continue stirring until the oats are well coated with the liquid mixture.
Transfer the granola mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly, taking care to ensure the corners of the pan are filled. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. Cool the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then transfer the uncut bars to the rack to cool completely. Once cool, place the uncut bars in the refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to cutting. Once cool, cut into bars/squares. Wrap the individual bars in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator (this will prevent them from becoming too crumbly and make them easier to eat).