So it wasn’t until this year till I got the nudge to attempt to make not just my own granola, but my own granola bars. I’ve never been one for a handful of granola or granola bars either really, so this is a surprise even for me that I liked making these so much. I don’t remember my parents ever really having them around the house, so maybe that’s why they’ve never interested me until recent. Or…maybe it’s because I’m a jerk. A granola jerk. I really don’t like the Nature Valley brand…they’re rock hard, and I never feel like I’ve eaten anything once I’ve snacked on one. It’s like…a snack gone wrong. The first batch months ago was made upon request (thank goodness) and I haven’t stopped making them since. Making your own, is absolutely incomparable to anything you’ve had in the store. I’ll admit, I have tried several store brands now (ones with lower calories and fat ect) and I do have a couple of brands/flavors I like…but still, nothing beats making your own hearty granola bars. I haven’t done the exact math yet, but I do think that making your own might be just a little bit more expensive just because there are quite a few ingredients… depending on what and how much of certain ingredients you use. On the bright side…as long as you use a 9×13 you’ll at least get a larger quantity than the average box of “six” you normally pay 3 bucks for in the store.
Oats…or Krispys. Everyone’s got their favorite kind. I was team Oats, until tonight. Let me tell you why… Because Team Krispy pissed me off. Half the granola bars in the store…aren’t even granola!! They’re Rice Krispy based… it’s not even granola/oats! I don’t understand. They should be called Krispy Bars…Am I the only that feels this way?! -le sigh- let’s move on.
The original mouf that got me hooked on granola is doing me favor tomorrow, so in return I made two kinds of granola bars to hand off. This particular mouf likes Krispies… so I decided it was time for this jerk to make a Krispy version. If you’ve ever made your own bars, there are ones that are baked, and ones that just sit and harden. I wanted to try both…so hey…double the Krispy fun right? Also…to my fun-loving kitchen surprise…REAL homemade Krispies…use lots of granola in them too! So suck it store brands! I get the best of both worlds…which is probably why one of these versions has moved its way up to my first place granola yum spot. My original granola recipe I actually found on a runner enthusiast blog when I first started running this year. It’s healthy, it’s hearty, and its yumlicious. I’ve stuck pretty close to it without too much variation until this evening.
This first one claims to be chewy via the recipe title…guess what….they lied, it was pretty crunchy… it was still good, but was really healthy tasting…and there was a lot of bad stuff in it, so not sure how that ended up working out…but they’re definitely hearty and filling.
The start to any good granola recipe is the almonds. I like getting the pre-sliced ones in the organic or natural aisles…not the processed ones in bags in the baking aisles. These things will change your life, I swear. Most recipes call for a half cup…but I usually double it because they’re so good, and if you cook them right, they’ll had the more flavor to your mix than dried fruit or chocolate.
Heat the oven to about 350 and spread a single layer on a flat pan (you can go higher if you want, but you really have to watch and babysit these so they don’t burn) and then depending on the color of pan that you cook them for about 5 minutes or so, darker pans will be in for less time. You want them to start turning a golden to light brown. When you take them out to cool, it’s the most amazing and welcoming aroma, you’ll be glad you doubled the asking amount. Set these aside to cool a bit.
Batch Number ONE: Get out your breakfast items! In a bowl combine your oats and rice krispies along with any dried fruit or candies (I also added wheat germ as an extra healthy boost) you want to add in.(When using chocolate chips, put them in the freezer beforehand, that way when you combine in the hot ingredients they don’t just melt) In a saucepan melt down a stick of butter and a 1/2 cup of brown sugar and some honey for flavor. Mix in with the dry ingredients until well combined and then put in a 9×9 for thicker bars or a 9×13 for thinner ones. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. I put parchment paper in the pan beforehand, no stick mess this way. I usually let them cool completely (this might take a few hours-be patient) before cutting them because they’ll crumble apart less.
*These were good, but they were a little NatureValley for me. I prefer them much softer…this recipe didn’t have peanut butter in them…which seems to be the common ingredient for really soft granola bars in my kitchen so next time I’ll throw in a few dollops.
Batch Number TWO: These bars had similar ingredients. Krispies, oats, brown sugar, whatever snackies or chocolates you want. This ones uses peanut butter and honey to make it all stick together (I didn’t have anymore honey, so I substituted in light karo) This one you put the karo, brown sugar, and peanut butter in a pan until it all combines and pretty much becomes a liquid, then you dump it in with the dry ingredients. I mixed for about 30 seconds to allow it too cool a bit before adding in the frozen chocolate chips. These ones you don’t have to bake. I also put these in a 9×13 lined with parchment paper.
Even though you don’t have to bake these…I’ve found that throwing them in the oven at a low temp for 5-8 minutes allows the peanut butter to reheat and then when it cools everything sticks together better.
On that advice…I’ll have you know…that this recipe didn’t stick together very well at all. ha! I should have went out and bought honey…It just goops things together better. BUT they, were freakin delicious regardless. I was just handfulling moufs of granola and the little mini-bites it left behind like the world was ending tomorrow.
*Batch two has definitely become my new favorite. I’ll just add honey next time and I’m sure that will fix the recipe and make it hold together better…or using a tighter 9×9 instead of 13×9 usually helps too…you’ll just have thicker bars.
BOTTOMLINE: These were super yummy, definitely fun to make and experiment with. The wonderful thing about making your own granola/bars…is they are completely customized to you. Peanut Butter, chocolate, nuts, almonds, fruit, candies, honey, ect…it’s all up to what you want to do. And the best thing about it is that you can’t screw it up unless you burn it! If they don’t form into bars then it’s just a great handful of snack or an extra kick to your morning oatmeal. I’ll keep batch #1 around for when I get more heavy into training (boot is off…I’m working at hitting the trails soon!) because they’re really good for you, but batch #2…will disappear before you know it- chewy, soft, and peanut butter glorious. I think I had about 5 of these devils just cleaning up the kitchen… oops, I mean yum! I’ll post the exact recipes for each when I get home today.