I love granola and I love even more when I get my boy to eat something healthy without complaints. So I began to make my own granola bars a while ago, to have a healthy treat for his school lunch. They are a huge success and I have made them in many variations, tried several recipes and came up with one of my own that’s made up of several others. Pretty much all of the ingredients can be substituted for other things, depending on what you’ve got at hand or what you like best. I’ll give you a few suggestions of what we’ve done in the past along with the basic recipe.
- 200 g (7 oz) oats (rolled or quick cook, whatever you prefer. Or you can replace about 30g of them with coconut flakes)
- 100 g (3.5 oz) puffed oats (or puffed rice, wheat, quinoa – pretty much any puffed cereal works, I’ve used the chocolate variety too, you just want something with a bit of volume to it)
- 50 g (1.75 oz) chopped hazelnuts (or almonds, walnuts, pecans…)
- 50 g (1.75 oz) sunflower seeds (I sometimes replace part of them and part of the nuts with raisins, craisins or chopped up dried fruit)
- 80 g (2.8 oz) slightly crushed cornflakes
- 50 g (1.75 oz) butter
- 100 g (3.5 oz) sugar (white or brown)
- 100 g (3.5 oz) honey (or maple syrup or any other natural liquid sweetener)
Measure all the dry ingredients and mix in a bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a rather big pot (it has to hold all the dry ingredients as well), add sugar and honey. Let the mixture boil until all the sugar crystals are gone and it starts to get slightly brown and smells like caramel. This takes about 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Add all dry ingredients and stir until everything is covered in a thin layer of the caramel. It might not seem to be enough, but just keep stirring. It helps to keep the pot on the still warm stove, that keeps the caramel liquid. But be careful to stir thoroughly or it might burn. You might have to stir for a few minutes until everything in the pot seems to be sticky.
Pour mixture on one half of your baking sheet, cover with parchment paper and use a rolling pin to flatten it to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch. In my experience it works best if you push everything back into one half after you rolled it once, then roll it flat again. CAREFUL, it might still be hot, even through the parchment paper. You can repeat the last step once more, it is really important that everything is packed tightly together or the bars will crumble. When I’m done, my granola mixture covers about 2/3 of my baking sheet.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, then cut into even bars. Let cool for at least another 30 minutes.
You can store the bars in an airtight box for 1-2 weeks – but they never last for more than a week around here. Make sure to put parchment paper in between the layers when you have to do more than one layer, otherwise your bars will stick together.
I love to eat the crumbs that might fall off when cutting or the crumbled up uneven edges in plain low-fat yoghurt… and sometimes I just crumble up a bar to eat that way. They taste great and are filling – and considering that they are rather sweet they are still a lot healthier than candy bars.
Whatever kind of changes you make to the recipe, make sure to replace ingredients with others of a similar volume if you want a nice bar as a result. I’ve made them many times and they always fell apart or were too sticky when I didn’t follow my own advice. The only other time they didn’t turn out great was in summer on a rather warm and humid day – the bars refused to get hard and stayed crumbly and sticky. They still tasted nice, but were hard to eat – so we crumbled most of them into desserts.
The only thing you really shouldn’t change is the ratio of liquid sweetener (honey, maple syrup etc.) to sugar – if you use too much liquid sweetener the bars will end up sticky and fall apart, if you use too much dry sweetener they will be really hard and difficult to eat.
More homemade granola recipes to try:
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Granola (crockpot365.blogspot.com)
- Maple Pecan Granola and a trip to Maine (joythebaker.com)
- How to Make Homemade Granola Bars – Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn (thekitchn.com)
- Homemade Granola Bars-All the goodness minus that extra stuff (whohastimeforthegym.wordpress.com)