You want January? Fine, I’ll give it to you, granola bar form.
This is my favorite recipe (I say “recipe” lightly; it’s more like a basic, customizable formula) for a soft, chewy granola bar. It veers on the brink of being a candy bar but I delude myself into believing it is pure health food, delicious health food. It’s chock-full of the tasty ingredients that make granola sing.
I like it as a snack, but it works well as a quick grab and go breakfast too. Or, you know, any time of day whenever the craving hits.
Soft, Chewy Granola Bars
adapted from The Pastry Queen
This recipe is wildly adaptable. Feel free to swap, omit, and/or add mix-ins. You could use different sweeteners (like golden syrup or molasses), nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc. Play around with it.
I reduced the sweeteners (brown sugar and honey were originally 3/4 cup each) by 1/2 cup and the bars are still quite sweet.
Makes about 16 large bars
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup almonds, sliced, slivered, or whole almonds, chopped (or substitute another nut, such as pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds*
2 tablespoons sesame seeds*
1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins (I like golden), apricots, or a mix of dried fruit
1/4 cup golden flax seeds*
1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1/3 cup peanut butter (or another nut butter, such as almond butter)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray.
Spread the oatmeal, almonds, coconut, and, if using, sunflower and sesame seeds evenly on 2 baking sheets. (Or you can be lazy like me and use one baking sheet. Bake for a longer time until it’s nice and toasted.) Bake for about 10 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown. Combine the oats, almonds, coconut, cranberries, and, if using, sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, combine the brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and water and set over medium-high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes until it reaches the soft ball stage, registering 234° to 240°F. Stir in the butter, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla.
Pour the honey mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Cool for about 30 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Evenly press the granola into the pan using a sheet of wax or parchment paper or plastic wrap. Cool for another 30 minutes before slicing into bars. Cut the bars in half the long way and in eights the short way to make 4 1/2 by 1 1/2-inch bars.
*I omitted these ingredients. Feel free to omit any of the mix-ins (nuts, coconut, dried fruit, or seeds).