Tuesday, August 24, 2010

granola bars from scratch

While staying at the Grand Traverse Resort last weekend, my husband and I became addicted to their homemade granola. It was crumbled to munch on in the spa, and then they had it in bar form in the little cafe/coffee shop in the lobby. SO GOOD. This recipe by King Arthur flour seems to be as close as I can find to it, I hope to make it soon with some of the Cherry Republic dried cherries I brought home. YUM.

The ones we devoured had peanut butter in them I think, dried cherries, and also raw sunflower seeds & sesame seeds. Chris' bar is still not eaten, if he's not careful it won't stay that way tomorrow :)

copying the recipe from King Arthur flour in case they remove it for some reason
Chewy Granola Bars

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1 cup + 2 tablespoons Sticky Bun Sugar **
1/3 cup granulated sugar, optional (see "tips" at right)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup quick oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

1) Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts.

2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, syrup or honey, and water.

3) Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

4) Spread in the prepared pan, shaking the pan to evenly cover the bottom and patting down gently

5) Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're golden brown around the edges.

6) Remove them from the oven, loosen the edges, and cool for 5 minutes.

7) Use a knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars while they're still warm in the pan. Carefully remove warm bars from the pan, and cool on a rack. Alternatively, remove from the pan before cutting into bars; it helps to cut in half first, then loosen the bottom of each half with a turner/spatula before turning out onto a sheet of parchment to cut into bars.

8) Wrap bars individually to store; or place in a single layer on a plate, and cover with plastic; or store in layers with parchment in between. In humid weather, it's best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

*King Arthur Note: We like 1/2 cup each dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, chopped pecans, sunflower seeds, and coconut. Walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries or apples, or even chocolate chips would all be delicious as well. This recipe is a great example of why a scale is such a key baking tool. Simply line up your favorite dried fruits and nuts, set your mixing bowl on the scale, and add a bit of this (or a lot of that) till the scale reads 10 to 15 ounces. For granola bars with a hint of peanut flavor, add 1/3 cup peanut butter to the dry ingredients along with the other wet ingredients.

**• Sticky bun sugar gives these bars a lovely crisp edge with a chewy center. If you don't want to use sticky bun sugar, you can make bars that come close to that texture by substituting 3/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons light corn syrup + 2 tablespoons melted butter for the sticky bun sugar. And yes, you'll still add the additional granulated sugar and butter as called for in the recipe. If you add lots of sweet dried fruit to these bars, you'll probably want to leave out the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, as the fruit will help sweeten the bars. If you use only nuts, seeds, and/or tart/tangy dried fruit, you may want to add the sugar; it's up to you.

Edited to Add: Tried these out and they are good, not as amazing as the ones up north (I think those had more flour, less crunchy bits). Still have eaten three since yesterday :) I'm keeping mine in the fridge and then letting them get to room temp before destroying one. :) I used toasted sesame seeds, raw sunflower seeds, slivered almonds & peanuts (run thru the cuisnart a bit to break up), dried cherries, and crunchy peanut butter. Also didn't have that sticky bun sugar so had to sub the sugar/butter/corn syrup. I opted for honey as my 1/4 cup binding sweetener of choice :)

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