She Cooks: Basic Granola Bar Recipe

I love granola bars. They are probably one of my very favorite snacks, but they are expensive to buy already made at the store. A while back, I found a recipe for granola bars, and then adapted it to my own tastes and created this general recipe.

Basic Granola Bar Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 cups nut/seed combination
1 cup dried fruit
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Procedure:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare a 13″ x 9″ baking sheet that has sides at least 1″ tall by greasing it, then laying a sheet of parchment paper in it (leave 2″ on either long side for faux handles), and then grease the parchment paper.
3. Combine the oats, nuts/seeds, and fruit in a large bowl. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk until everything is coated. It will require a lot of stirring. You have mixed it enough when there are no more “dry” ingredients in the bowl.
4. Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it into an even layer with your mixing spoon/spatula. Then, use your hands to press it firmly into the pan in a very even layer that reaches all corners of the pan. Dampen your hands with warm water occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to you.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. They will still be soft when you remove them from the oven, but will harden as they cool.
6. Immediately remove the bars from the pan by lifting the parchment paper out and onto a cutting board. Cut the sheet of granola into 24 bars. Gently place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely, then store in an air-tight container.

I’ve tried this recipe with a few different nut combinations. I like pecans and almonds the best, but switching either with walnuts works too. You need very small pieces of whatever nut you choose–I like to use a small kitchen chopper (you could use a food processor) to chop the nuts into about rice-sized pieces. I want to try sunflower seeds one of these days because I think that would be good too.

I would not advise using plain raisins in this recipe. I used them, and the fruit turned quite bitter. Maybe sugared raisins would work. The only other fruit I’ve tried is dried cranberries, which I really love in this recipe.

You can also add various additives of your choice. I’ve tried these with honey and with peanut butter. You need about 1/4 cup of an additive to be able to taste it in the final result. Honey doesn’t change the texture, but peanut butter will make the bars kind of fluffy and lighter. Peanut butter also can be quite over-powering, so only use it if you really want peanut butter granola bars.

I don’t have pictures for you because these bars are quite difficult to photograph in a dark kitchen on a cloudy day.

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