Welcome back to The Lunchbox Season! |
We’re looking forward to another school year full of family fun, featuring art projects, writing workshops, math craziness, canning bliss, advent calendar and march break olympics, and recipes galore.
Here’s a “weekly treat” to get things rolling.
For the first full week of school, I sought to improve upon a treat I’ve had in my bag of tricks for some time…Granola Bars. I make these at least once a month in my rotation of lunchbox treats for the kids. Then why didn’t I post them on last year’s edition of The Lunchbox Season? Well, about half of the way through the school year last year, my son started complaining that his bars were a bit crumbly and sometimes difficult to manage at his desk. So, over the course of last spring, I took my time reformulating the recipe and getting it into tip-top shape. In fact, I came up with several variations of a chewy bar that the kids absolutely loved. So, here you have it, our best ever recipe for a nut- and seed-free (i.e. school-friendly) Chewy Granola Bar.
Our Best Chewy Granola Bars, A Flexible Recipe
makes 16 bars or 32 small squares
First, choose the Delightful or Decadent dairy-sweet combo:
.5c unsalted butter, softened slightly
.5 c brown sugar
.5 c honey, corn syrup, molasses, rice syrup OR a 50:50 mix of any two of these
.66c unsalted butter, softened slightly
.5 c brown sugar
.66c honey, corn syrup, molasses, rice syrup, OR a 50:50 mix of any two of these
Along with the Delightful or Decadent combos will go:
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
.5 tsp salt
[optional] 1 tsp cinnamon
[optional] .25 tsp ground ginger
Next, choose any ONE of the these flexible grain combos: The Chewy, The Luscious, or The Kookie
our chew-chewiest bar, with a slight bit of crumble, but nothing a kid can’t handle
.66 c quick oats, pulverized in a blender or food processor
2.33 c additional oats & 1 c rice-krispie/other puffed-type cereal OR 3.25 c additional oats
a chewy bar with a super-soft-baked cookie consistency
.75 c quick oats, pulverized in a blender or food processor
2.25 c additional oats & 1 c rice-krispie/other puffed-type cereal OR a very full 3 c additional oats
our most cookie-like but still chewy bar – the least likely to crumble
1c quick oats, pulverized in a blender or food processor
2 c additional oats & 1 c rice-krispie/other puffed-type cereal OR 1 scant c additional oats
Finally, Choose Two Cups of Mix-ins!
choose 2 c of any of the following in any ratio you choose
Chips: milk, butterscotch, dark or white chocolate chips, [we almost always use at least 1 c of some sort of chip in our bars], toffee bits, M&Ms, busted pretzels, raisins, dried currants, cranberries, cherries, or small bits of any other dried fruit, unsweetened coconut, mini-marshmallows, smashed candy canes or pretty much any other smashed candy, …go wild!
Heat your oven to 350.
Grease a 9×13-in baking dish or pan with butter or baking spray.
If you are using a metal pan, line the bottom of the pan with greased parchment. [The bars are sliced in the pan.]
In a mixer, combine butter and sugar until extremely fluid.
For an easy pour, spray your measuring cup[s] with oil or baking spray or wipe them with your empty butter wrapper before measuring out your honey or syrup.
Incorporate honey, syrup, molasses or your preferred mix of these sticky sweets into the mix.
Incorporate eggs, vanilla, [spices], and salt.
Incorporate pulverized oats.
Incorporate additional oats and blend well.
Incorporate [additional cereal] and blend until just barely mixed.
Incorporate 2 cups of Mix-ins.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until slightly brown on the edges.
[The center of the pan may still be soft, especially with Decadent option.]
Place the pan on a wire rack.
COOL COMPLETELY in the pan before slicing.
If it’s particularly warm, or if you have a shaky hand, of if you’re just set on perfection, you may also wish to refrigerate your pan for an additional 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Slice and serve the bars or wrap and store for future consumption.