She was right. This is the best granola bar you'll ever eat. For me it's about the peanut butter. And I threw in some of my favorite stuff "to make them my own." (I've clearly been watching too much American Idol. It's the show I can't stop loving. Because every season some really earnest, nervous, under-20 year old belts out a song that makes me cuss in my living room and then I buckle. This year, for me, it's the little guy with the mullet. He moves me.)
For the nuts I used almonds and pecans. My faves. For the dried fruit it was apricots and figs. Then I threw in coconut, flax seed meal, and chocolate chips because why not? This is one of those great recipes where you can add whatever floats your boat. I also used maple syrup instead of the honey and regular flour instead of the oat flour. Because it's what I had and I'm very flexible.
Other tips: definitely do the whole "parchment paper sling" thing. It helps. And cool these in their pan until they are pretty good and cool. This will make them easier to cut--otherwise they may fall apart on you. I totally took the recipe's advice and wrapped them individually in plastic wrap. It was strangely satisfying.
Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
From Smitten Kitchen but tweaked.
2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender--or, regular all purpose flour.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups dried fruits and nuts (any combination of anything you love.)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup (I used maple syrup)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Once cool, cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container.