Monday, November 22, 2010

Honey Granola Bars

This might be the healthiest thing I've ever made. Seriously. If ingredients like wheat germ, and sunflower seeds scare you, then maybe you should skip past this and come back another day. But if you're open to things that don't start with a stick of butter, try these granola bars!


I'm pretty partial to things that start with a stick of butter. (When did I turn into Paula Deen? Does anyone remember? I think it might have been June.) But I also have a healthy appreciation for things that are...well, healthy, and I was still willing to give these a whirl.
The original recipe called for sliced almonds, and since I hate all things nuts that haven't been either ground, or turned into 'butter,' I switched them out for rice krispies instead.
The recipe calls for any dried fruit you can imagine, and I went exotic and used dried peaches and pears. You could go classic with raisins, or pretty much any dried fruit you can think of - but make sure to chop it into small pieces with a sharp knife. It has a tendency to stick to the knife, but keep at it to ensure no huge chunks of fruit.
Overall, these were popular in my house, but not perfect. They fell apart quite a bit - though we ate all the crumbs as well. I felt like they were screaming out for some chocolate - which you could certainly add in - but that was probably my inner Paula Deen yearning to break free. These bars fell somewhere between chewy and crunchy, and I think I would have preferred something that was solidly in one camp. Luckily I have my eye on another recipe - especially to use up that jar of wheat germ. Any wheat germ recipes out there?

Tip of the Day: Wheat germ often comes pre-toasted in jars - if that is what you purchase, you can exclude it from the toasting (otherwise it will simply burn) and add it in when you mix everything together.

Recipe: (adapted from Alton Brown)

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds or rice krispies
1/2 cup wheat germ
6 ounces (1/2 cup) honey
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit
Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ (and almonds if you're using) on a baking pan. Toast on 350 F for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While it toasts, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Remove the oat mixture from the oven, and immediately add it to the liquid ingredients, adding the rice krispies if using, and the dried fruit. Stir to combine well.
Pour the mixture out into a greased 9x9 inch pan and press down gently to create an even height. Bake on 300 F (note the temperature change) for 25 minutes.
Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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