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Crunchy Granola Bars
“Health bars” have proliferated in the past few years, from supermarket brands to companies offering gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and what not. There are certainly some that don’t have any nasty ingredients or added sugar, but they don’t come cheap.
These bars are a breeze to make and you don’t need specialist ingredients. I make these at home, not because of any overriding health reasons, but because as with everything, I want to know what we put in our mouths. Feel free to change the mix of nuts and seeds, as along as you stick with the quantities and don’t include too many chunky bits. In the past I have used sesame seeds, chia & flaxseeds, and they all taste good. You can also use brown sugar or raw sugar if you don’t stock coconut sugar.
The bars do have a little sugar, but there are no other additives and aren’t overly sweet. I find them handy for the boys to eat as a snack. My recipe is adapted from America Test Kitchen’s recipe, and is one of my favourites for a crunchy style bar. Crunchy bars tend to have less fat and sweetners than the chewy variety or flapjacks, but the choice is yours.
If you like softer, chewier bars, this is not for you!
Crunchy Granola Bars
Granola and granola bars are similar in terms of ingredients, but bars need adhesion, which in this recipe comes from grinding a part of the oats into oat flour. I like to use a mix of coconut & vegetable oil, but you can use olive oil (as they do in the original recipe) or any other oil that you like. Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it gives the bars a nice crisp crunch.
Preheat the oven to 150C (140C fan). Line a 13” x 9” baking tray with parchment paper, such that it extends on two sides. Lightly grease.
Grind ½ cup of the oats to a fine powder in a food processor or grinder.
In a mixing bowl, measure out the oil first. Use the same cup for measuring the maple syrup, that way the syrup is easy to measure and doesn't stick to the measuring cup. Add the sugar and salt and whisk everything to combine.
Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir everything well until all the dry ingredients are well coated.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, and spread out to the ends in an even layer.
Use a flat spatula or a potato masher to firmly compress the mixture until very compact. This is key.
Place in the preheated oven, and bake for about 45 minutes, until the mixture is deeply golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and let cool for about 5-7 minutes in the tray. Then cut, whilst still warm, in the pan into 16 bars. Let cool to room temperature, which can take about 1 hour.
Using the extended parchment, remove the bars and transfer to chopping board. Using a sharp knife, carefully re-cut the bars following the original cuts.
The bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
3 steps to perfectly crisp & crunchy bars:
Use proper rolled oats, not the instant variety.
Press down the mixture well before baking. If it’s not packed down well, it will not hold together after baking.
Cut when warm, and re-cut again when cold, along the same lines.