My version of granola bars is suited to my particular tastes. I like them chewy and moist, but with a variety of textures. I’m not averse to letting them put a toe or two over the line towards candy bar. I will admit that the last time I made these I used Cocoa Pebbles for the cereal component. I will admit to fantasizing about using Golden Grahams. I’m not a purist.
I was able to find brown rice syrup in the syrup section of my regular grocery store.
1 1/2 cups (150g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup (45g) sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup (60g) whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (75g) pecan halves, coarsely chopped
1 cup crispy rice cereal, flavored or plain
1 cup (125g) pitted and diced dates
1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate, chopped into chunks or use chips
1/3 cup (35g) dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, blueberries, apricots, or cherries (choose one or make a combo)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup (65g) smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup (80g) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with an 8×15-inch rectangle of parchment paper, making sure the ends hang over the edge.
Spread the oats, sesame seeds and nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until they are slightly browned. Let cool and scrape into a large bowl.
Add the rice cereal, dates, chocolate and dried fruit to the bowl. Stil to combine.
Warm the rice syrup, peanut butter and honey for 10-15 seconds in the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat. It should be warm enough to be pourable but not so hot that it will melt the chocolate. Mix in the vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon. Pour the liquid over the ingredients in the bowl and stir until everything is completely coated and starts to stick together in clumps. A silicone spatula or wooden spoon works well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Use wet or lightly oiled hands to firmly press the mixture into the pan. I also like to use the oiled bottom of a heavy glass or a meat pounder so I’m able to exert a lot of pressure. You want to really pack it in so that the bars will stay together.
Using a bench knife, cut down through the mixture to make rectangles. Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the freezer and run a knife around the edge to help release it from the pan. Using the ends of the parchment paper, transfer the bars out of the pan to a cutting board. Use the bench knife to recut into rectangles and wrap each bar in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Store in a airtight container.
Makes 8-12 bars.