I had sent out a survey of my Facebook friends asking what they would like to see how to make and a lovely friend of mine who is expecting (you know who you are) has asked for a how-to for making homemade granola bars. I thought this was a great idea as I myself get very discouraged in the ingredients that I see listed on the boxes of conventional granola bars and then become even more concerned at the pricing of “natural” or “organic” granola bars. Even the better brands have preservatives and additives and nut products that may not be suitable for the kids to bring to school. I found a few different recipes online and some I have cut out of magazines years ago and combined them all to create a simple and easy recipe that could be made quickly and didn’t require any specific equipment. I will make a note of an alternate when necessary. You can really make this your own by adding raisins, different seeds and nuts and even chocolate. For best results, just ensure that that the wet ingredients ratio to the dry ingredients does not change and they will come out perfectly for you each time.
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter ( you can use salted butter, just omit the salt following in the recipe, you could also use coconut oil but I’d boil the sugar longer as you may have to keep the finished bars in the fridge)
1/3 cup of brown sugar (or white sugar with a teaspoon of molasses, voila! brown sugar)
6 Tablespoons of honey
1/8 teaspoon of salt ( omit if using salted butter. I used sea salt, use what is in your cupboard)
1/4 cup ground chia seed meal or flax meal ( you can buy whole flax or chia seeds and grind it in a coffee mill)
1 Tablespoon vanilla (not essential but really adds a nice flavour profile)
2 cups of Puffed Rice cereal (You could also add puffed wheat that is has been broken up in a food processer a bit, just to reduce the size of them a bit, puffed quinoa works beautifully as well.)
1 3/4 cups of quick cooking oatmeal. You could use the regular, but the taste would be too starchy and would take forever to chew.
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips ( or regular sized ones) this is for your topping, you could use whole or chopped almonds, hazelnuts or sunflower seeds. I would definitely use a chopped or a smaller sized topping so that it’s easier to cut into squares.
Take a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper or grease it heavily using butter, coconut oil or use a non-stick cooking spray. I used an old piece of parchment paper ( it’s reusable fyi, you can wash it and hang it to dry and use it over and over again) which I sprayed with my Misto filled with olive oil. I’m not a fan of aluminum foil so it you do use it, just make sure you grease it generously. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, place your butter (or coconut oil if using) sugar, honey and bring to a boil over medium -high heat.
Lower temp to medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (metal gets very hot quickly) boil for at least 5 minutes which will make the mixture thicken and is technically going to get you almost to the soft crack stage which means everything will hold together which is the magic that will make your granola bars hold together in your lunch bag without crumbling apart. If you have a candy thermometer, the temp you want is 270C to 290C or you can drop a bit of the butter/sugar mixture into a bowl of cool water, it will separate into threads but are still soft. When you pick them up with your fingers (carefully), the threads will bend a bit before breaking. When this happens, the syrup is ready. At this point, take the saucepan off the heat and add the flax meal stirring it very quickly.
In case anyone notices, I added the flax, took it off the heat then quickly stirred it into the mixture ( do as I write, not as I did in the picture above, in the end, it doesn’t really matter as it still worked out well in the end)
I then added the vanilla, salt (if needed) and mixed this in ensuring it had been incorporated fully. Next it’s time to add the oats and puffed cereal making sure that you stir quickly and thoroughly to ensure an even coating. Sidenote: If you are wanting to add nuts or raisins in the bar, this is the time to add them.
With your prepared baking sheet at the ready, spoon your mixture onto it and work quickly to smooth it out to about 1/2 inch thick. You can use the back of a greased spoon.
Or you can use another piece of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to smooth it out. Note the little rolling pin I’m using, this was mine from when I was little. It’s great for using on baking sheets that have a lip. Those who have play kitchens take note.
Using your hands, try to square off the mixture as much as possible to make it easier to cut into squares. Pictured below is my rendition of a square. You can try harder at it than me. Let it cool a bit so that you can add your chocolate chips. It should be warm enough to let the chips set in on the top but not warm enough to melt the chips.
Next, sprinkle the mixture with the mini chocolate chips or whatever you would like to top it with.
Next place the cookie sheet in the fridge. I have never owned a fridge where I could fit this baking pan in so I put it in the deep freeze for about 2 hours. I then let it warm to room temperature and used a pizza cutter to cut it into bars. You can use a knife too if you don’t have a pizza cutter.
I used a container that I had handy layering them with parchment paper. This will keep for about 1 week depending on your climate. We are having a very warm Spring here on the West coast so I am keeping them in the fridge. These would freeze well, but I would wrap the bars in wax paper or plastic wrap individually first.
I hope you try this recipe and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about it. You can also suggest recipes you would like me to try for you. Enjoy.