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
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
- 1 c 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 9x13-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.