Thursday, June 10, 2010

Granola Bars

Granola bars make the best snack. I usually snarfle one before I zip out to mow the lawn. I ran across this recipe a while back....awesome basic granola recipe there....and then I just played around with it for a while until it suited my needs a little better. One of the coolest things about granola bars is you can change out ingredients pretty much endlessly to get different flavor combos. Use different nuts like cashews, pistachios, almonds, or macadamia nuts. Slip in some peanut butter or nutella.....a pause here for the glory of nutella....nom! There are so many different dried fruits you can pick from as well. The thing to keep in mind is that even though this is a healthy treat, serving size is important. Too much of a good thing quickly turns into a very bad, high calorie/fat thing. ;)

Granola Bars

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbls butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried fruit

Pour your peanuts in a 9x13 pan. Crush them up a bit with the bottom of a cup, or whatever you have handy for crushing purposes. Add wheat germ, oats, and sunflower seeds and mix everything together. Pop pan into the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees for a quick toast. Stir the ingredients in the pan a couple times just to make sure nothing gets overdone. When the 10 minutes are up turn off oven and pour the toasted mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir in the dried fruit. Set aside.

In a saucepan mix together the honey, butter, and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and then continue to cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the mixture you just set aside. Mix until everything is well combined. Spray a 9x13 pan and pour the granola spreading it out evenly. With a piece of wax paper protecting your hand press down firmly to compact the granola. Toss the wax paper when your done. Let cool before turning out granola on a board for cutting. Makes 20 pieces.

A few photos of the process...
A view of the syrup at the end of four minutes of boiling and stirring. It's a nice pretty golden color and quite bubbly. I don't start the timer on the 4 minutes until the entire surface of the mixture is bubbly. The edges like to bubble a bit first so that can throw a person off. I keep the sugar and butter content quite low in this recipe so I needed my syrup to be quite sticky to hold my bars together. Cranberries and raisins needed more holding power than dates.

And here we see my really horrible job evenly cutting my bars into portion sizes. Normally I do a little better job eyeballing it, but I was in rare form apparently...ehehehe.

I used silicone heart molds to form the heart shaped granola pieces.  It's easiest to press half the granola into an 8x8 pan and use the remainder to do pretty shapes if you go this route.

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