This past winter I decided to develop a granola bar recipe to share with the Here We Are readers. After reading long, sugar-filled ingredient lists on store brands, I wanted bars that were light on sugar content, preservative and soy-free. And so the testing began...
Like all of the HWA recipes that must pass the "simple and easy" homemade test before publication, these snack bars are no exception. In fact, you will find them less sweet than retail brands, and adaptable to any dry good substitutions. TIP: Try different nuts and dried fruits to create your own flavors.
Beware! These granola bars are addictive; they are great for breakfast, lunch, or as an anytime snack. I knew the recipe worked when the requests - from all of my test-tasters - for "my bars" kept coming in! It took a while to get it right, the biggest issue was getting them to stay together without all the extra honey or Karo syrup required in many other recipes.
1/4 cup butter, softened (room temperature, NOT melted)
1/2 cup brown sugar (TIP: you could cut back to 1/3 cup)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 all-purpose flour (TIP: whole wheat flour can be used as well)
1 tsp. cocoa powder, optional (TIP: for more chocolate flavor, use 1 tbsp cocoa)
2 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 cup wheat germ, optional (Substitution TIP: try ground flax seed instead)
2 1/4 cup dried goods: pick what you like... I use chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pepitas, dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; cover a edged baking sheet with parchment paper (leave at least an inch of paper overlaping the baking sheet edging)
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter for a quick 30 seconds
3. Slowly add brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt [TIP: Mix these ingredients together first in a small bowl]
4. Beat in egg, then vanilla; scrap down sides as needed
5. Slowly beat in flour; mix well
6. Stir in oats and dry goods by hand [TIP: again, mix together prior to adding to butter mixture to create an even mixure for the bars] HINT: Use a fork to really get the mixure combined with the batter; it's a dry mix so some elbow grease makes for more even distribution of the dry goods throughout the bars
8. Score the mixture with a pastry cutter or butter knife into bars or squares
9. Bake for 25 minutes; take out and rescore (following the previously made cuts); return for approximately 3 more minutes
10. Remove and cool completely before snapping bars apart. Enjoy!