granola bars that are tasty…and easy

So I have spent years trying out granola and granola bar recipes.
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Last year i finally settled on a granola that i really liked…but i hadn’t been able to figure out how to turn it into a granola bar.

Well that’s not entirely true, i have tried all sorts of variations on bar recipes, but none of them hit the mark. I like my granola bars firm, i want them to hold together but not so brittle that they leave a trail of crumbs, or you break your teeth.

All my experimentation to this point resulted in granola bars that changed the original taste too much, or they were too complicated, too sweet, or too dangerous (yes baking can be dangerous, just ask anyone who has experimented with sponge toffee or molten sugar!) or they plain didn’t work, until today.

I found a recipe that used only sweetened condensed milk as the sweetener – brilliant.

Now i didn’t really want to use just sweetened condensed milk (it called for a lot), my lactose intolerance not withstanding, and I still wanted my vanilla-maple flavour to come through. And their recipe had nuts and fruit, and, and, and….

So beginning with my own tried and true granola with some adjustments here and there and i think i have hit upon a combination that works.

It can go to school (nut free)&  get eaten (dried fruit free), feed toddlers, hold some protein, hide some nutrients, and appeal to discerning adults (who may have a sweet tooth and a weakness for expensive store-bought granola bars).

Maybe this is a long post just for a homemade granola bar, but I LOVE them and would eat them all the time if there werent so darn expensive, and didnt disappear SO quickly. one of those boxes of 5 crunchy granola bars from *earthy landscape* or some such company that i presume is supposed to call to mind organic fields of hand crafted foods –  lasts 1 day in our house, and it cant even be taken to school because its been processed in a nutty facility.
I digress, heres the recipe what has been flying out of my oven for the last 36 hours:

Crunchy, Tasty, and Easy

10 min prep 325 oven for 20-30 min
DRY
5 c oats, any grind (Quick, whole,steel – but NOT Minute)

1c (gluten free) flour

2-4 Tb ground flax

½ c coconut
(1-2 Tb brown sugar)

WET

½- 1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 c liquid sweet (corn syrup, maple syrup, honey etc)

¼ c oil (coconut preferred)
1 tsp vanilla

Filling:
½ c pumpkin seeds

(1/2 c chopped nuts – almonds/cashews)

(½ c dried fruit(s))
½ c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325
Combine dry in a large bowl or stand mixer so all are well incorporated.
In a spouted container /measuring cup combine liquids (oil, honey/syrup, vanilla, and ½ c SC milk).
add to dry and mix until all the oats etc are moist. Add more sweetened condensed milk until mix just holds together without becoming dough-like. It should still be loose.
Then add filling(s). mix to incorporate well.

On 1 or 2 parchment lined rimmed baking sheets (I use a metal roasting pan)
spread mix evenly, pushing into corners. You may find it helpful to use a rolling pin to squish it all down. Aim for less then 1cm thick.
bake 10-15 minutes then check, edges should be golden. Once edges are browned, flip to bake other side. To flip, place a cutting board with parchment on top of pan, flip the whole baking sheet over. Remove parchment  that is stuck to the bars “bottom”. slip the new piece of parchment with sheet of bars intact back onto baking sheet. Place back in oven to bake for 7 – 10 min.

When firm remove and slice into bars or squares while still warm.
let cool completely before storing in airtight container.

 

 

 

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