I’ve been experimenting with granola bars for a while now, and my kids haven’t necessarily appreciated my efforts. Various recipes have resulted in granola bars that are too crumbly, or not sweet enough, or oddly textured, or basically flavorless . But after many mediocre batches under my belt, I found an old weight watcher’s recipe and played around with it until I got it right. Now my kids gobble them up. (It has a lot to do with the crispy rice cereal, so don’t omit that!) So much so that I have to hide them in the freezer so that there are any left for their lunches.
While the ingredients can be changed to come up with different flavor combinations, the ratios of dry to wet stay the same. Boiling the butter, honey and maple syrup on the stove for five minutes brings the mixture up to a high enough heat that the sugars will solidify once cooled, holding the dry ingredients together, so make sure you take the time to include this step.
Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
1/4 cup butter (organic, if possible), or pure, organic coconut oil (I have made it with both and they both work well)
1/4 cup local honey
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 1//2 cups GF certified quick cooking oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup GF certified crispy rice cereal (I like Nature’s Path)
1 cup roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds (organic if possible) *If pumpkin seeds are salted, reduce or omit salt
3/4 cup cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional (I like Camino brand organic, fair-trade, and soy free chips)
Grease a glass 9×11 inch pan, and line with parchment paper; set aside.
Combine oats, rice cereal, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries in a greased bowl and set aside.
In a pot, bring butter, maple syrup, honey, and salt to a rolling boil. Boil mixture for eight minutes. It is really important to let it boil for eight minutes, bringing it to the right temperature, so that the sugar will harden as it cools to keep the mixture together.
Add vanilla to hot mixture, and stir.
Pour directly over the dry ingredients, and stir until everything is evenly coated.
Scoop into parchment lined pan and with greased hands, press down mixture until evenly distributed and top and edges are smooth.
If using chocolate chips, sprinkle them over the smooth surface of the pan of granola bars and press them into the top.
Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Carefully lift out and place on a cutting board.
With a large knife, and for “granola bar” shaped pieces, cut lengthwise down the middle, and then down the middle crosswise.
Cut strips crosswise until there are 16 rectangular shaped granola bars. (Which fit perfectly into the snack sized reseal-able bags).
Refrigerate or freeze until serving.
Makes 16 servings.