Anything Granola Bars

dsc_0162RECIPE #406, DAY #574

FOUR STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Cranberry Nut Granola Bars,” from SeattleFarmersMarketGirl at AllRecipes.com*

TIMING: 40 minutes, plus cooling time

DIFFICULTY: Easy

TOOLS: 9×12 inch baking pan, parchment paper, mixing bowl…

COOK TYPE: Oven

HEALTH: Granola bars have a reputation of being very, well, “granola,” meaning healthy. This is not often the case, though. Although full of whole grains, fruit, and nuts, commercial granola bars have various pitfalls, including a lot of (bad) sugars, additives, etc. At least with a premium can of condensed sweetened milk you can now control exactly what goes into your granola bars.

dsc_0163EXPERIENCE: I have made these before, and they are marvelous just because they are so very simple and so very versatile. However, you have to get the small things right (like ingredients, ratios, and bake time) or they will fail spectacularly. Then again, they can be a wonderful recipe to have around for just about any reason.

dsc_0164NOTES: These bars are nice for using up bits of things you have in your cupboard. Your combination could include just about any nut, any baking chip, and any dried fruit. I love peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios, with chocolate chips and coconut. Some other obvious choices would be white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, and raisins, currants, dried cranberries or blueberries, dates, figs, prunes, pineapple… whatever.

You can also add a spoon of peanut butter, or finish them with a drizzle of chocolate or caramel or even a sprinkle of salt. In the end, though, you don’t want to compromise the texture too much, so don’t overdo anything melty (like chips and peanut butter).

***

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a 9×12 inch baking pan, oil it, then line it with parchment paper, leaving flaps sticking out of at least 2 sides. Oil again.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups quick cooking oats, 1 cup rolled oats, and 3 cups combination of nuts, baking chips, and dried fruit. Add 15 ounces sweetened condensed milk and stir to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture into the pan and press flat and even. Bake 25 minutes, until golden brown throughout.
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then lift the bars with the parchment paper tabs and set the whole thing on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars and storing.

***

Serve with a cup of milk over homework or a water bottle on a hike.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: These keep for several days, sealed up at room temperature. If traveling with them, it would help to separate them with wax paper.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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