Thursday, January 13, 2011

Granola Bar Therapy

Seattle Metro, you are pathetic. I waited for the bus for forty minutes yesterday and my bus passed by me TWICE. It was too full to stop and pick up more commuters. Now I know I seem like the fool to have waited forty minutes, but when you honestly wait more than fifteen minutes for a bus, I feel like you're invested because you KNOW that once you start walking, that bus is going to come. Alas, after forty minutes of waiting, I decided to walk.

It only took me thirty minutes to get home, and you know what, I needed it. Not in that exercise sort of way (although, I'm sure I needed it that way too) but days have been grey in Seattle and it's definitely getting to me. The walk coupled with an episode of The Cosby Show and some peppermint bark was perfect and....I squeezed in some time to bake too!

Granola. Nuts. Stuff like that. That was what a friend said when I asked what birthday treats he enjoys. Mine would be: cupcakeicecreambrowniescookiespiecakecakecake. I've never made home-made granola bars before but it was really easy, incredibly flexible, and fun!

Thick Chewy Granola Bars
Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen who adapted the recipe from King Arthur Flour

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan (I used a 9 inch round 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.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack.

Once cool, a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. As Deb from Smitten Kitchen suggested: If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container.

I used walnuts, a few almonds, dried cranberries and chocolate chips for this mix. I'm definitely going to make some to snack at work too. 

Photos on this post are taken by my wonderful housemate Gaew.

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