Before E was born, while I was still hugely pregnant and nesting, nesting, nesting, I made a bunch of food to have on hand after she was born. I figured I wouldn’t feel like cooking (I was right) and we can’t afford to order out every meal. When I asked my mom if she would bring us some food after E was born, she balked and said, “But you’re such a better cook than me!” So, thanks mom. But no thanks. (She did relent and bring us a lasagna. That lasted about a day and a half.)
One of the many things I stocked the freezer and pantry with was a giant batch of these granola bars. There’s nothing like having a big pile of sweet, tasty, oaty bars that you can grab at a moment’s notice. Especially when that moment may have been preceded by one involving baby poo or a long sleepless night. Now that E is older I have less need of stockpiling food, but these are still a great snack to have on hand. Particularly when someone *cough*M*cough* has a tremendous granola bar addiction. We don’t usually buy them from the store because the whole box will be gone before I’ve even thought to open it.
Recently though, I had a Whole Foods coupon for some granola bars so two boxes made it into my cart and tagged along for the ride home. They even lasted longer than a day and a half! And I even got to eat a few! But as I was eating them, I realized that my own homemade granola bars are certainly no worse, and maybe even better than these fancy schmancy boxed bars. Not to mention cheaper. Much much cheaper!
I took a look in the cabinet and realized we had just about everything to whip up a nice batch of bars. It’s pretty ordinary stuff that we usually have in the house anyway, so it’s easy to make a batch. Of course, I consider shredded coconut pretty ordinary and I’m well aware that this isn’t the case in lots of households. But it should be. *ahem*
I started off modifying this granola bar recipe and have adapted it to better suit my tastes. More coconut. Yum. My version is fairly sweet and honey-tasting and the coconut isn’t subtle either, so take both of those things into consideration. I happen to use whatever dried fruit I have on hand, which this time was cranberries, but feel free to substitute whatever fruit pleases your palate! And yes. I am the crazy woman who individually wraps each bar in waxed paper, but you can probably get away with storing them in an air-tight container. We keep ours in the freezer, for added freshness, which has the added benefit of not being so obvious to my granola bar-loving husband and thus they last just a wee bit longer. (And I get to eat a few more, without resorting to stashing them away in secret locations.)
adapted from Catherine Newman’s recipe
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup rice krispies
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups dried fruit – for this batch, I used 1 cup dried dates and 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9×13 baking dish and line with parchment. Set aside.
Mix together the oats, almonds and coconut on a large baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. I err on the side of caution with this and go for the lesser amount of time because if there’s the slightest hint of burnt, it sullies the whole batch for me. I’m picky, what can I say? You want the mixture a nice golden brown.
In a very large bowl, combine the oat mixture, rice krispies, wheat germ and flax. Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
In a small saucepan, combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat then cook, stirring, for a minute. Pour over the oat mixture and add dried fruit. Stir very well making sure everything is evenly coated. Pour into prepared pan and press into place. Press hard – you want them to stick together! I use the back of a spatula and it works beautifully. If you want/need to use your fingers, wet them first so they won’t stick.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least two hours before cutting. Try to keep your husband or other creatures from cutting pieces off before then. (I failed.) Cut into bars and store airtight.
Granola bars in the freezer – like money in the bank!