Homemade granola bars are very popular in our house. They are easy make and transport well so we often take them along on picnics and hikes. Over time we have shared them with many people and I often get asked for the recipe, but have passed it on only rarely. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I want to keep it a secret or anything (it's not like we are talking about a Caramilk bar!), but we only sort of follow the original recipe. It also varies so much depending on what I have on hand, that I've never been quite sure the best way to transcribe it. But for all of you who have asked (and asked and asked in some cases ... sorry about that) here is my best effort.
Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups oats
3/4 wheat germ (we don't often have this so it usually gets left out)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts (the recipe says crushed, but who has time for that ... just throw them in whole!)
* note * we often add other nuts and seeds -- almonds work well, along with chia, sesame or flax seeds have all been tried in our house with great success.
Place on a baking dish and toast them in the oven (400 degrees F) for about 10 - 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so they don't get burned.
*note* I always skip this step ... what is the point of no bake granola bars if you have to turn on the oven?!)
Put the "glue" ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly (ok, I don't stir it constantly ... how about frequently? yes, that's sounds more reasonable!).
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter (coconut oil is a great substitute!)
1/2 tsp salt
* note * the recipe doesn't call for peanut butter, but I always add a big spoonful of it ... crunchy!)
Remove from heat and add 2 tsp vanilla.
Put the dry ingredients (toasted or otherwise) and the "glue" in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add 8 oz of dried fruit (8 oz, really? I never measure this, just throw in handfuls of whatever dried fruit you have on hand ... raisins, cranberries, chopped up apricots or dates). And coconut, don't forget the coconut. Since it's not in the original recipe, I don't know how much coconut we usually add ... 1/2 cup or so? (are you seeing the pattern here?).
Now dump your granola mixture into a well greased pan (we like 9 x 13) and start spreading. You need to press them down so that they don't crumble when you cut them. Wax paper works well, just get a sheet the size of your pan and use your hands to press them down hard ... be sure to remove the wax paper when you're done or it will stick (only made that mistake once!). A plastic bag will work too, just be sure to turn it inside out if there is writing on it otherwise the ink will come off on your bars (granola bars emblazoned with the Bulk Barn symbol ... tasty!)
Wait 2 - 3 hours for the bars to cool. 2 - 3 hours? No, no, no you can cut this time drastically by putting them in the freezer for a bit. Warning!! if you leave them in the freezer over night and they get rock hard, they have the ability to chip off the end of your knife ... the really nice one that your husband likes (oops!)
Cut into whatever size pieces you like and enjoy!
I don't have any on hand to take a picture of (*gasp* sound the granola alarm!), so I'm off to make some more while I ponder whether this is changed enough to call it my own ... where is that line anyway?