Monday, July 27, 2009

Homemade Chewy Granola and Fruit Bars

Madam and I both like a chewy granola and fruit bar for a snack but it is getting impossible to find a commercial one that doesn't include some unpronounceable chemicals and other questionable ingredients(like HFCS). Not to mention that some are really expensive. If you'll remember the peanut recall you will also remember that even the expensive Kashi granola bars were recalled because they contained potentially contaminated nuts. The only way to really know what is in your food is to make it yourself so if you like the occasional granola bar for a snack, here is a reliable recipe that makes a nice chewy bar. You can make them in less than an hour and the actual hands on time is only about 15 minutes. You can use other fruit than what is listed here but this makes for a nice combination...regardless just keep the amounts of whatever you use the same. I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten's Back to Basics cookbook.

You'll need:

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (not the cooks in 1 minute stuff)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds(shelled of course and salted or unsalted)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup raisins or you can use chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries( I use the sweetened ones)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter an 8 x 12-inch baking dish for thick bars (or a 9x13 for thinner ones) and line the bottom with parchment paper for easy extraction.

On a sheet pan toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the wheat germ.

Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

In a small saucepan melt the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the raisins, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and using wet fingers, lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. You need to allow this to cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. I wrap them individually in waxed paper and then store in a larger container or big zip bag. These will keep for a couple of weeks at room temperature or for months if kept frozen.

Depending on how big you like your bars this recipe will make 12 or 16 and I usually make 16.

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