May 6, 2010

Granola bars

Homemade granola bars.I've made these granola bars a few times now using this recipe. They are awesome! The most important lessons I've learned are to make sure that your ratio of dry to wet ("glue") ingredients follow the recipe and that you should always use old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking). You can use any combination of seeds, nuts, dried fruits, and even grains that you want (just keep the total quantity of dry ingredients the same as in the recipe). Experiment and see. The below recipe is my modification of the original and my favorite combination thus far.

Homemade granola bars
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place parchment paper in a glass baking dish (about 9"x13") so that it is hanging 2-3 inches over the edges.

On a baking sheet, combine the following:
2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/4 ground flax seed meal
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the baking sheet in the oven to lightly toast. Keep your eye on them to make sure they don't burn. Stir as needed.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside once all the dry ingredients are fragrant and lightly golden.While the dry ingredients are toasting, add the following to a small saucepan.

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or honey)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons almond butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lastly, you'll need:
3/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Warm the "glue" in the saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are well combined and come to a simmer. Then, in a large bowl, add the dry ingredients along with the "glue" and stir until everything is equally covered. Add about 3/4 cup of dried fruit and stir to combine. Place the mixture into the baking dish covered in parchment paper and spread it evenly over the parchment paper using a spatula. Then using a measuring cup or your hands (folding over the excess parchment paper on top of the granola mixture), press the mixture down as hard as you can to make it flat and to stick together. 

Place in the oven for about 3-5 minutes. Remove and cool in the pan. At this point, I put some chocolate chips on top and spread them around as they melted, but that it also optional! Let the granola cool for about 3 hours. Then, remove the them (still on top of the parchment paper) and cut into bars. Place in a air tight container and enjoy for the week instead of the ones out of the box.

A good variation is to substitute peanuts, peanut butter, and golden raisins for the almonds, almond butter, and cherries/cranberries. 

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