Since I had so much fun making my first batch of granola bars, I decided to attempt it again but with a new recipe. I found Ina Garten's recipe on Food Network which had rave reviews so I went for it. Again, I strayed from the "fillings" in the recipe and I made banana chips and chocolate chips (interesting, no?) but followed the recipe otherwise. I was hesitant to using all that honey since I don't like the straight-up sticky stuff, but to my surprise once it was cooked it didn't have a big honey flavor. Compared to the granola bars I made with the condensed milk, this tasted more like something you would buy at the stores and much chewier. The other ones were great too, but you could taste the milk flavor, in case that's not your thing. Also, these bars fell apart for me like crazy so when I fed them to Things One and Two, I just had to put the broken chunks on a plate for them to eat. Reading the reviews on Food Network, apparently this is a common problem, and some suggest that it may be due to boiling the sugars too long. I will keep that in mind the next time I make these. Over all, other than the crumbliness, these were a huge, huge success and I think I prefer these to my first batch (though those were great too!)
Homemade Granola Bars
Yields 12 bars
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
2. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
3. Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚.
4. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.