Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The 5 Year Old Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

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I've been making this recipe for homemade granola bars for 5 years now. That just doesn't seem right. - where did the time go? I posted the original recipe in 2009! That means I have made many, many batches of these. Some batches turned out great, some fell apart, and these treats have faded in and out of popularity in our house.

But I always seem to return to this recipe when I'm looking for a treat that I know what the ingredients are (not processed, not weird fake chocolate) or if I want to make something to add to lunches when I've already spent all the grocery money that week.

These are not peanut free so they don't work for school peanut-free zones. My 1st grader has to have a peanut-free snack, so he can't take these, but we include them in his lunch.

I've revised the recipe a bit to include some tips and switched the ingredient order around to show how I really whip these bad boys up. I also included ounce weight measurements for the honey and peanut butter - I really hate trying to scrape honey and peanut butter out of a measuring cup, so I set the bowl on my handy-dandy kitchen scale and squirt/dump the ingredients.

The honey or corn syrup choice is totally up to you. Corn syrup is much cheaper than honey, and the finished bars seem to stay together better with corn syrup. I prefer to use honey because it's a cleaner/simpler food, but it's OK whatever you choose.

Chewy Granola Bars
18- 20 bars, depending on how the bars are cut

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) honey or light corn syrup
1/4 cup (2 oz) creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats 
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease on 9 x 13 pan. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, honey or corn syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add the oats, flour and baking soda to the bowl. Stir to combine or until the flour is incorporated and the oats are coated in the butter mixture. Now add in the mini chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.

Press into pan (a potato masher works great - this compaction keeps the finished bars from crumbling) and bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool for at least ten minutes or until almost room temperature.

OK! Now we are at the hardest part of the whole recipe. You want the pan to be cooled down enough to be warm to the touch - too warm and the bars kind of crumble and fall apart, too cool and those suckers are a PAIN to chisel out. Go around the edges of the big granola bar mixture with a butter knife or spatula to loosen it from the pan. Maybe lift the edges a little to separate it from baking pan. Place a big cutting board or cookie sheet on the top of the baking pan. Now FLIP!

Ahhhhh, so it broke! No biggie! Just slide it back together!

Stick the whole cutting board or cookie sheet in the frig or freezer at this point to harden up the chocolate and cool the bars down. These can be quite a mess to cut if the chocolate is still soft.

After the bars have cooled off and the chocolate is hard, cut off the broken pieces. Serve those to two little boys who like to help in kitchen...or you eat them, I won't tell! If yours didn't break, then cut into granola bar sizes!

My preferred option for wrapping is to put them individually into snack size bags. Sometimes I don't have them, so I use sandwich size bags. Sometimes I don't have anything else better to do and I wrap them with plastic wrap. I have found that my boys seem to have problems getting them out of the plastic wrap, so bags work best for us right now.

I store them in the frig, in the "Lunch/Snack" drawer. My boys really enjoy them!

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