By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor
Snacks are pretty much my go-to meal, any time of the day. Whether it’s snack-sized hummus or a yogurt cup, you can find me eating it at noon and midnight alike. So I figured it was about time I try my hand at homemade granola bars—and after looking at the ingredients list and amount of packaging involved in the store-bought varieties I usually consume, it seemed like a no-brainer.
I chose to adapt a granola bar recipe from my favourite food blog, smittenkitchen.com. If you love eating simple yet decadent meals and enjoy porn-quality pictures of the cooking process, you need to check out that blog.
As Deb from Smitten Kitchen says, this granola recipe is super versatile. It calls for 2-3 cups of dried fruit or nuts, but it doesn’t specify which kind—this allows you to be creative. You could go tropical with coconut and dried mango, classic with almonds and raisins, or get a little gourmet and do raspberries with white chocolate. You can even throw in breakfast cereal like cornflakes or rice puffs! I ended up using a cup of smashed roasted almonds, and a 1/2 cup each of unsweetened coconut ribbons, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and dried cherries. I also threw in a 1/2 cup of ground flaxseed just to be extra healthy.
You will need:
2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 cups dried fruits and nuts
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
To prepare, get all your ingredients ready—because you have a lot to work with, it’s good to set up your workspace and keep it organized. Then, get your pan ready. This recipe calls for an 8×8 baking pan. Line the pan in one direction with parchment paper (with the ends sticking out on each side). Parchment paper may seem unnecessary, but trust me, you need it for this recipe. Your bars will have a hard time getting out of the pan if you forgo this step. Plus, once you go parchment you don’t go back—it’s cheap, reusable, and it makes clean-up a breeze when you’re making cookies. Lightly grease the pan and paper once you’ve lined it, set it aside, and preheat your oven to 350 F.
To make the granola bars, first combine all the dry ingredients, including your selection of fruit and nuts, in a large bowl. Once you’ve mixed the dry ingredients, mix the melted butter, vanilla, corn syrup, honey, and water in a smaller bowl. I like to heat my honey up a little bit first in the microwave so it mixes more smoothly. Then, pour the contents of your wet bowl into your dry bowl, and add the peanut butter to the whole thing. Mix it up until it’s all crumbly—I use my hands for this because it’s more fun that way.
Press your mixture into the prepared pan. Use some plastic wrap to press it in smoothly, then toss it into the oven and wait 30-40 minutes. Let them cool down completely before cutting into pieces—you may want to cool them off in the refrigerator. Store your tasty bars in an airtight container in the fridge, or wrap them individually. These also freeze well.