A granola by any other name

16th August, 2010 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Granola Bars made with Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Almonds and Local Honey

School is starting soon, and a standard addition of many lunch boxes is the classic granola bar. However, many granola bars have left the realm of healthy snack and are making a beeline for candy bar land.

Most commercially produced granola bars are full of extra sugar and sodium. Sure, they have oats and grains, but once they are covered in chocolate, it hardly matters.

Like many things, the best way to get the ideal product is to do it yourself. The other advantage to making your own is that you can put in them whatever you want. Don’t like raisins? Leave them out. Pecans make your heart sing? Toss in a handful.

The one ingredient that raises this granola bar over the others is the honey – which is also the only sweetener and binder. If you can find local honey, even better.

Making the granola bars is a pretty simple process, mix everything together, press into a pan and bake for 30 minutes. The oats, coconut and almonds are first toasted to deepen the flavor then mixed with the honey. To make life easier, mix in the honey while everything is still warm. The honey will melt and cover the mixture evenly.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and transfer everything to the baking pan. The real trick to a non-crumbly granola bar is to press everything firmly into the pan prior to baking. A rubber or silicone spatula will do an adequate job, but the best tool for this job is the cook’s hand. To keep yourself from ending up with granola mittens, do the pressing with wet hands. Trust me.

Once everything is pressed and baked, remove from the oven. The granola mixture will be a lovely golden brown color. Let everything cool in the pan for at least two to three hours.

Slice with a sharp serrated knife and wrap the bars in plastic wrap. At this point, the bars can either be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or stored in the freezer. If you prefer a crispier bar, go with the freezer method. Frozen, the bars will hold for one to two months, making these a good choice for making in large batches and grabbing as needed.

Granola bars
CMakes 12 to 16

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed (Preferably unsweetened)
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup dried fruit, or a mix of dried fruit (I used chopped apricots, cranberries and raisins)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8×12-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper.

2. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce the oven temperature to 300¡F.

3. While the mixture is still warm, stir in the honey, vanilla and salt until the mixture is well coated, then the dried fruit. Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish and press it in until the mixture is packed as tightly as possible.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares.

5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or two.

Posted on: August 16, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast, Vegetarian

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