Yesterday we reviewed Emily Franklin's Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes, a great book full of improvisational cooking and healthy, practical, delicious recipes. We promised to share one more recipe, and here it is — a tried and tested, easy, terrifically yummy recipe for homemade crunchy granola bars.
I realize that we already shared one granola recipe from Emily with you; she made homemade granola during the tour of her kitchen. But at the risk of making you think she only cooks granola (she most emphatically does not; every other recipe in the book is non-granola, I promise), I just had to share this one.
Homemade granola and protein bars are perhaps the single biggest recipe request we get from our readers. You want fast, easy recipes for breakfast on the go. We've shared dried fig and nut bars and some other baked breakfast items, but no granola bars yet. Well, these bars are a fabulous recipe for the morning or for snacking, and they are definitely the keeper we've been looking for.
If you keep these ingredients around already then these are very cheap to put together. I substituted agave syrup and molasses for the brown rice syrup, since I just don't keep it around. I also used a nutty flax cereal instead of bran buds, which I couldn't find at my little co-op. And, sadly, I completely forgot to put in the fruit! I had a nice little bag of dried cherries all ready; I will have to save them for the next batch.
Because, you see, there will definitely be a second batch. These granola bars are so quick and easy, and they turned out exactly as I hoped they would. They're crunchy, but not brittle, with a slight chewiness still in the center. They are sweet, but with the sweetness of natural things — not sugary and over-sweetened. They are marvelously full of flavor, and they are much more filling than you would expect.
My only quibble is that they are slightly more crumbly than I would like, but this may very well be due to my substitutions and forgetfulness. Also, my peanut butter was rather dry. Next time I will add a touch more honey and peanut butter.
So, all of you who have emailed and asked for granola bar recipes — this is the one! Enjoy! And thank you, Emily.
Crunchy Granola Bars
Makes 1 (9x9-inch) pan; about a dozen long bars
3 1/2 tablespoons
soy butter (or almond or peanut butter), preferably chunky
3 1/2 tablespoons
brown rice syrup
Big splash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups
bran buds/Grape-Nuts cereal
1 1/2 cups
rolled oats (not the quick-cook kind)
handful (about 1/3 cup) dried cranberries or cut-up dried apricot
raw pumpkin seeds
salted sunflower seeds (or a mixture with raw)
Preheat oven to 325°. Line 8- or 9-inch square pan with a long sheet of parchment paper (you want longer ends than the length of the pan). Warm soy butter, honey, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar until sugar has melted and soy butter has thinned. Mix dry ingredients in big bowl and dust with cinnamon. Pour liquid on top, mixing as you go. When everything is equally coated, spread the mixture into the pan. Press mixture down with long ends of the parchment paper. Bake for about 25 minutes. When you remove the pan from the oven, again use long ends of the parchment to press bars flat. Allow to cool completely before touching again. When totally cooled and hard, lift the ends of the parchment and put onto a cutting board and cut into longish bars or squares.
You can shift around these ingredients depending on what you have around, but these make a satisfying snack or quick breakfast.
You can add crushed almonds or slivered ones, or toasted coconut if you like, or raisins — golden and brown — if desired.
Originally published May 5, 2009.
• Buy the book: Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes, $16 at Amazon.com
• Visit the author's website: Emily Franklin
(Images: Faith Durand)