Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

We've been looking and experimenting with a lot of granola bar recipes around here for the past few years. Yes, years. Everytime we see a new recipe we get really excited about it, and each time it's a flop for one reason or another. Some are too crumbly, too sweet, too dry, cake like; our list of complaints could go on and on. Nothing was really holding up to our standards, and there were some really longing looks when we walked down the granola bar isle at our local supermarket.

Our local supermarket only carries two bars that are completely sugar-free, but we aren't particularly fond of them. So a few weeks ago we played with another granola bar recipe. I can't, honestly, even remember where I found that one. What I do remember is that the bars were very crumbly, overly sweet, and not a huge hit around here. Yet another miserable disappointment, which can happen when we're trying out a new recipe to add to our repritore. It's just never taken us many years to come up with a recipe we love!

When I stumbled upon another granola bar recipe I really got excited, but it only lasted for a few minutes. Oh sure, the pictures looked great and the family who made them raved about them, but we weren't the average family and the recipe also contained sugar. Which meant that when I subbed the sugar out I could have a total disaster on my hands. I picked up the needed ingredients when we went grocery shopping, but my boys were so excited to see Crispy Rice in the cupboard they didn't last very long. Since the rice cereal was gone I decided to use the oatmeal for breakfast(s) during the week.

It took another week before we stocked up on more ingredients and finally gutted it up and made them. Honestly, we were amazingly surprised. The boys were so delighted with them they gobbled up the mini granola bites we made before the actual bars were done! They were a bit more crunchy then I had hoped for, but the taste was perfect. The downside to the recipe is that it only makes a small panful at a time, so today I stirred up a triple batch of these fun little bars.

This time I cooked them a little bit less and they were perfect! Mr S was totally won over on them; he liked the last ones, but wasn't fond of their overly crunchiness. This batch was absolutely perfect, and to celebrate we all munched on one and then packed 20 of them in the freezer for our upcoming camping trip. However, Mr S felt that wasn't nearly enough and suggested I make another 20 (at least) to take on said camping trip.

Homemade Granola Bars

2 1/2 c quick cooking oats (we used organic)
1/2 c Rice Krispies (we used this one)
1/2 c coconut sugar
1/2 t salt (we used sea salt)
1/2 c canola oil (we used half organic olive oil half canola oil)
1/2 t vanilla (I didn't use it in the triple batch because I was out)
1/4 c honey (we used the mild organic honey from our local health food shop)

Mix all the dry ingredients together; mix in the wet ingredients until the mixture starts to hold together and clump up a little bit. If needed add a pinch more honey; both times I added about 1 teaspoon more per batch. (So in my triple batch it was 3 tsps) Line an 8x8 baking pan with baking paper and place the mixture in the pan. Press down firmly; I pressed down first with a measuring cup and then evened it off with a silicone spatula. Bake for 13 - 15 minutes for soft chewy granola bars; 15 - 22 minutes for crunchy granola bars.  They come out of the oven rather soft so let them be until they are completely cool. Then remove the baking paper from the pan and slice into 10-12 bars.

Notes:  The original recipe can be found here at Another Lunch. Melissa added chocolate chips to hers, I didn't. I can't eat chocolate without getting a wicked migraine, and I wasn't even willing to put a few in some for the boys because I didn't have any chocolate made up. I also didn't add Flax Seed to any of mine because the first time I forgot and the second time I was out. I wanted to try making these with half coconut oil, but I was also out of that! The Mini Bites we made are the cute little ones Melissa made in the silicone cups. I don't know if it's because we baked ours a bit longer (crispy the first time, but not at all burned!) or that we just had poor quality paper mini cups, but the paper stuck like mad! I don't own mini silicone baking cups. 

I did not find the need to leave mine sitting for 24 hours. It may be because coconut sugar gets super soft when cooked but hardens up when cooled. Perhaps that made the difference. That's really the only major change I've made to the bars compared to the original recipe! They were soft until completely cooled, but after that I had no trouble cutting them and putting them in the freezer. (Melissa says they freeze well!) Lastly, I strongly urge you to use baking paper. I own 3 8x8 pans and when I made the triple batch I only had enough paper to line 2 pans. I greased my other pan with oil and while I got the bars out without them sticking too badly, it was quite difficult. I might try it again with Gee, which I find works way better at keeping things from sticking, BUT I thought I'd warn you. Lastly, don't say I didn't warn you that these are delicious!!


Butterfly said...

Can't wait to try this recipe ... we too have been experimenting and tweaking in search of the perfect muesli bar. Thanks!

Jimmie said...

Finally getting over here to the recipe. (Sprite and I share the VPN to access blocked blogs. Everytime I wanted to come, she was using it.)

This one has ingredients I can't get. Rice crispies and coconut sugar. Sad. They look so GOOD. Will check out the original recipe tool.

Kendra said...

Oh Bummer Jimmie, you can use regular sugar, but the Rice Crispies are in the normal recipe too.. I wonder if you could just sub more oats or something..