No matter what stage of life you're in, there are always seasons of busyness. Whether you are working full-time, in grad school, parenting small children, or just on your way out the door to your next appointment, it is hard to avoid moments of being rushed. And hungry, too. Which makes me think that you might enjoy a homemade granola bar to stick in your pocket.
There are many benefits to the granola bar, making them perfect a variety of situations: portable, snack-sized, instantly available, tasty, and full of excellent whole grains, nuts, fruits, and (hopefully) a little bit of chocolate. They're wonderful to stockpile in your fridge or to share with your friends. They're great for a quick breakfast, a mid-morning coffee break, or lunchtime dessert. Or, if you're like my father-in-law, you might prefer to eat them at home, crumbled on top of vanilla ice cream for dessert. I just made a batch to send to one of my closest friends from college who recently gave birth to her second child — instant midnight snack! But enough preamble. Let me show you one of my favorite granola bar recipes of late.
This excellent chewy granola bar recipe was recently posted by one of my favorite food writers, Molly Wizenberg. (She actually reposted it from the blog Smitten Kitchen, who had adapted a recipe from King Arthur Flour, so it is making the rounds — a good sign for a recipe!) I made a few of my own innovations in my most recent batch and have recorded them here.
Like most granola bars, you can be quite innovative with the fruit-and-nut mixture in this one, just as long as you end up with about 2-3 cups. The bars keep well in an airtight container stored in the fridge. You can wrap them individually in waxed paper for a quick, on-the-go snack. They travel well if you need to ship them — I wrap mine in waxed paper and plastic wrap, then stick them in a resealable plastic bag for shipping.
Chewy Granola Bars
3 and 1/3 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup oat bran or wheat germ
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups raw pecan halves
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup raisins
1 teaspoon fine salt
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter
2/3 cup peanut butter
¾ cup honey
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9"x13" baking pan and line with parchment paper (or buttered foil would probably work in a pinch). Leave a little overhang to aid removal from the pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, oat bran (or wheat germ), sugar, pecans, coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, and salt. In a saucepan, warm the butter, peanut butter, honey, and water together until melted and smooth. Add the vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well, until the mixture is evenly moistened. Transfer to the prepared pan. Take a plastic sandwich bag, stick your hand in it, and press the mixture firmly into the pan. (The plastic bag really helps to keep the granola in the pan instead of adhering to your skin.)
Bake the bars for about 30-35 minutes, or until they’re brown around the edges and just beginning to color on top, too. The mixture will still seem soft and almost underbaked if you press on it, but it’ll set as it cools.
Transfer the pan to a rack, and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. When cool, chill the bars in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. (You don't really have to chill them, but I find them much easier to slice neatly when they are cold.) To slice them, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan; then pull up on the parchment paper to lift the mass of granola out of the pan. Cut into bars of whatever shape and size you prefer.