My B-i-L does a lot of cooking (and grilling and smoking). A lot of it is trial and error. According to my mom, he ruins a bunch of things (like dishes, pots, pans, etc.) He was able to get some jam jars to seal once without putting on the rings. (He thought they were just meant for decoration.)
I am not ragging on him because he has created some delicious fare.
This past Christmas he sent me some homemade granola bars after we had had a discussion about them at Thanksgiving. I was bemoaning not ever having found a decent recipe for them. He came through with flying colors and sent me a batch o’ bars and a printed recipe.
Here is my rendition:
based on Chewy Cherry Almond Granola Bars from Iowa Girl Eats
1 c. whole almonds
1 c. of any other favorite nut (pecans, walnuts, macadamia, pistachio)
1 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. of your favorite dried fruit, chopped if large (cherries, cranberries, apricots, apples, dates, etc.)
2 T. “seeds” (hulled pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, etc.)
1/4 c. plus 2 T. local honey
3 T. coconut oil
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 t. almond extract
dash of cinnamon
Place 1/2 cup each of almonds, the “other” nuts, and oats in a food processor. Pulse until fine and then pour into a large bowl. Rough chop the remaining nuts and add along with remaining oats. Add the fruit and seeds and mix well. Set aside.
Combine honey, coconut oil, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, and cinnamon in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until mixture foams and then cook for 15 seconds longer (stirring constantly). Pour over the granola mixture and mix thoroughly to coat all ingredients.
Line an 8×8 pan with plastic wrap letting the edges hang far over the sides. Pour in granola. Press very, very firmly with your hands or something with a flat bottom (may need to spray it with non-stick spray.) Wrap the overhanging saran wrap or parchment paper up over the sides and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.
Using a sharp knife, cut chilled granola into bars. Wrap individually in saran wrap and store in the fridge or freezer.
I ended up using 1/2 cup whole roasted and salted almonds, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, 1 cup pecans, dried cranberries, and milled flax seed. Because some of the almonds were salted, I omitted the salt.
Use these for “grab ‘n goes” for breakfast or snacks. Or, follow the B-i-L’s lead and give them as gifts. I really can’t praise this recipe enough. These bars are not too crumbly and they have just a hint of sweetness. Perfect.
This is a good basic recipe and I like to play around with the flavors a bit.
What about apricot or peaches and more almond extract?
Cranberries and pecans with a bit of orange zest?
Apricots and pistachios? Coconut and cherries and macadamia nuts? A bit of pumpkin spice, pepitas, and pecans?
In my most recent batch, I used a combination of leftover dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, unsweetened shredded coconut (all to equal 1 cup) with one full teaspoon of almond extract (deleting the vanilla). They were delicious as well.
What would be your favorite flavor combinations for granola bars?