Granola Bars

Another Alton Brown granola recipe for you. This one comes in bar form. How can you go wrong with anything in bar form? I've played with a number of variations on this one and have found it quite flexible as well as quite delicious. Loads better than most of the granola bars you can get at the store, although I'm still trying to get it a little more chewy.

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 wheat germ
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup corn syrup or maple syrup (or both, whatever you like)
1/4 brown sugar
1 ounce butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces chopped dried fruit (raisins, cherries, apricots,cranberries, blueberries, etc.)

A.B. says to use old fashioned but I haven't noticed any difference between those and quick, so use whatever you like. Take those and toss them together with the sunflower seeds, almonds and wheat germ. Pour them out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.

Pour the honey, syrups, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt into a large sauce pan. Melt them and stir just until the sugar is dissolved. The longer you keep in on the heat the more crunchy the granola bars will be, so I guess you can keep cooking if that's what you want. I tried using marshmallows to increase the chewy-ness but they take too long to melt. Maybe if you melt them separately and then combine, but I'm just too lazy to try that.

Carefully pour the oat mixture into the pan with the sugar. I generally find it easier to use an intermediary bown because pouring out of a cookie sheet can make a mess, and time is of the essence here. Mix around well and add the fruit. I have yet to try other fun things like chocolate chips or mini-marshmallows but I will eventually. This would be the step for those as well.

Dump the gloppy mess into a greased baking dish. This is a nother place where a little trial and error is necessary. At first I tried a 9x9 pan, but the bars were too thick. 9x13 and they were too thin and breakage ensued. I found this oval pan (not sure on the size) was the perfect compromise. The only problem is you get a few bars that are shorter than others. Those are perfect for the kids. Using a spatula or other flat device (I find it helps to use some canola spray on the spatula) mash down the goo pretty tight, making sure it's fairly uniform and flat.

Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for half an hour or so. Remove them from the pan while they are still hot. It helps to cut around the edges before attempting to extricate them. If you take them out while they're too warm, they'll fall apart. Too cool and they break as you cut them. Using the biggest knife possible, because hey big knives are awesome, cut into strips. Store for up to a week or so in an airtight container.


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