Monday, October 22, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

This recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman.  Does she make anything that isn't delicious?  I've made these bars twice now and my family loves them.

The first time I baked them for the full 20 minutes stated in the recipe and they turned out crun-chy!  Very similar to the original Nature Valley granola bars.  However, these homemade ones turn out thicker, so being thick and crunchy can be more time consuming to eat.  I don't mind it so much, but I do think it's hard work for little ones with small teeth and small mouths.

The second batch I only baked for 8 minutes and they turned out delightfully chewy.  I think this batch will get eaten a lot faster.  I know I can't stop eating them!

slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman's recipe

6 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned - NOT quick oats)
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tsp. cinnamon, optional
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup raisins, Craisins, or chopped dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, toss the oats with the canola oil, melted butter, and salt.  Spread the mixture in a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with heavy-duty foil and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to make sure they don't burn.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

**Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees.**  In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, molasses, apple juice, and cinnamon (if using).  Heat the mixture over medium heat, just until it starts to bubble.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

In a large bowl, toss together the toasted oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds or pecans.  Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour.  Toss in raisins, if using, until evenly coated.

Spray foil-lined baking sheet (the one you used to toast the oats) with cooking spray.  Press the granola into the pan (very firmly for chewy bars - so it really sticks together).  Bake for 8 minutes for chewy bars, 20-25 minutes for crunchy bars.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.  Remove from pan and cut into bars with a sharp knife.  Store in an airtight container.

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