I really enjoy being able to cook/bake something for an occasion, or upon requests of my nearest and dearest, simply because I already know that they want it and will appreciate it! Recently, one of the near and dear ones asked if I could make some granola bars for her to make a healthy munching habit out of. I immediately accepted and about a month later finally came around to it- but it was definitely worth the wait and aint gonna ever buy those ready-made highly processed and super sweet granola bars again- this recipe is a smash hit!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Ingredients:
1.       1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
2.       1/2 granulated sugar
3.       1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a blender)
4.       1/2 teaspoon salt
5.       1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6.       2 ½ cups dried fruits and nuts (See Feedback below on which ones to use)
7.       1/3 cup peanut butter (optional)
8.       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9.       6 tablespoons melted butter
10.   1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
11.   2 tablespoons light corn syrup
12.   1 tablespoon water
Method:
1.    Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line an 8 x 8 x 2 pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan with a non-stick spray, such as PAM.
2.   Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry and peanut butter, until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are moulded to the shape of the pan.
3.    Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little colour on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost under baked when you press into the centre of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
4.     Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack.
5.   Once cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold.
6.   To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

 

Feedback:
1.     Dried Fruit/Nuts suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, dried apples. My mix: 1/2 cup dried cranberry, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ½ cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup sesame seeds.
2.     You can adapt the sweetness of the recipe as per taste, I stuck to the lower threshold of ½ cup but for added sweetness you can up that to 3/4thcup.
3.    The permutations and combinations of this bar are endless. The flavour is far superior to any packaged variety and make sure to store in an airtight container!
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