Upon full consideration, I have decided that these granola bars are my favorite thing to make with C. First, they taste amazing; just sweet enough, chewy, crunchy, marvelousness. Second, they are pretty healthy, especially the munchable ingredients (this is the only recipe that I encourage breaking the “no testing” rule). That’s the third point: it’s an activity and a snack all rolled into one. And finally, the recipe is so engaging for kiddos (C is capable of doing most of the work) that it takes about an hour out of your morning. So block off some time and stock up on dried fruits. You’re gonna like this one.
Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (or buzz your whole oats a few times in your food processor)
- 1/2 cup or less granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup oat flour (really really buzz the oats in your food processor until they become oat flour. Voila!)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp or more cinnamon
- 2-3 cups dried fruit and nuts (see below)
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1/3 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to go up and over right and left sides (you’ll use this to help you pull out the bars after they’re cooled). Spray parchment lightly with cooking spray.
I got out two mixing bowls: one large for dry ingredients and one smaller, microwavable bowl for the wet ingredients.
With help, C scooped and measured (and buzzed) the oatmeal into the big bowl, along with the sugar, oat flour, salt, and cinnamon. Then, into our 2-cup glass measuring cup, we layered our fruits and nuts of choice today. This changes depending on what we have on hand and are in the mood for. Today I let C choose what and how much. There is a good list of options at Smitten Kitchen. Today it was:
I used kitchen scissors to cut the apricots, dates, and almonds into manageable pieces, and our bars are still really really chunky. Snip into smaller pieces if you want a bar with a more consistent texture.
I cut the butter into smaller pieces in the small microwavable bowl, then popped it into the microwave to melt it. C held the measuring cup as I squeezed in the honey, and he watched as the air bubble floated up from the bottom. I measured in the corn syrup, water, and peanut butter as he licked the honey and peanut butter from the utensils. We whisked until the ingredients were smooth, then poured it over the dry ingredients. C had no interest in mixing wet and dry together but wanted to “test” the dates as I did it.
I poured everything into my prepared pan and used the back of the metal spoon to smash it down and even it out. They were then baked for about 33 minutes. Once you remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool completely, they’ll set up nicely, so don’t let them get too brown. My edges got a little dark, but it all turned out well.
After they were completely cool (during nap), I pulled up the edges of the parchment and placed the whole thing on the counter. Using a serrated knife, I cut the bars into a few C-sized squares and a few adult-sized squares. (The little crumbles were promptly eaten. SO good.) I wrapped them in plastic wrap and put most of them in a container in the freezer. They take forever to thaw, so they’re perfect to throw frozen into your diaper bag as you’re leaving for the zoo. They’ll be ready for morning snack after you see the cheetahs.