Keeping with the New Years theme of trying to be healthier and fitter, I decided it’s time to make granola bars. I love granola bars. I think they are the perfect snack. Healthy but just a bit indulgent. Win-win all round. Having made loads of different granola bar recipes over the last few years, I had hit on the perfect recipe last year. However, me being me, I lost the recipe. (Yes, I know. Its ridiculous. I’ve spent the better part of the last few months kicking myself.) Meanwhile Atul had been asking for healthy granola bars – only about a gazillion times. The only way to rectify the situation and regain my self-respect seemed that I puzzle out the recipe again.
The holy grain (I made a pun!!) of granola bars for me is one that’s crunchy-chewy and not soggy. I used to love Natures Valley but now find that they can be a tad too crunchy/dry. On the other hand, I’ve made softer bars with eggs or mashed bananas and while tasty, I find those to be too cakey or soggy. After sifting through hundreds of recipes I decided that the base formula that worked best for me last time was the one from Americas Test Kitchen:
- cereal (oats) – 7 cups
- oil – .5 cup
- sugar brown – .75 c
- honey – .75 cup
- nuts and fruits – 1.5 c
- flavourings – 1 – 2 tsp
I know that looks like a lot of oil but honestly, it’s also a whole lot of bars. Next time though, I do have a mind to experiment with cutting down on the oil and syrup and replacing it with some peanut butter and perhaps, egg whites. Since I loved the murmura or puffed rice chikki (praline bars) from childhood, I decided to play with throwing some of those in as well. Yummy even if I say so myself!! Locally available, light and crunchy, these are a great flavour and texture addition. And then I added in some rye flakes because I can’t leave recipes well alone without screwing with them and because these looked pretty and healthy when I stumbled on them at Natures Basket.
Homemade Crunchy Granola Bars
All in all, these turned out fantastically well. Crunchy and chewy in the perfect proportion. Hearty and filling in the right measure. They keep in the fridge for a good 3 weeks. Grab 2 of these nutty-sweet crunchy granola bars, and you have a perfect mini meal on the go. I plan to play with the recipe and mix-match combinations of nuts, fruit and grain. Next stop – peanut butter-grape-almond. Oh, and cranberry-candied orange-walnut!!
Serves: 50 bars
- 4c quick cooking oats ((Though most recipes ask you to stick to rolled oats, I prefer quick cooking ones since they are locally manufactured and easily available)
- 1c rye flakes
- 2.25 c puffed rice or murmura (You could substitute this with any other puffed grain or left over cereal that needs demolishing)
- 1.5 cup mixed notes and fruits ( My favourite combination was ¾c almond, 3/4 c hazelnut and 1/2 c chic chips. I also made a tasty batch with an equal mix of sweetened chopped coconut and sun dried strawberries)
- ½ c honey
- ½ c molasses (I used some grape molasses I got from Turkey this time and have in the past used the liquid jaggery/palm honey that I got from Kerala. I've also successfully replaced this with a combination of more honey and brown sugar)
- 3T brown sugar (substitute with demerera/white sugar or jaggery)
- 4T palm jaggery (substitute with brown/demerera/white sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Pinch of salt.
- Mix all the cereal with the oil and stir in a wok over medium heat till fragrant .
- Remove to a large mixing bowl.
- Similarly, stir the nuts in the same wok over medium heat till fragrant. Chop till the pieces are about the size of peas and some finer.
- Add to the mixing bowl and mix.
- Combine the honey, molasses, sugar (if using) and jaggery till it boils and then cook for a further 5 minutes. Make sure your sugar mix does not burn though. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the honey mix over the oats, add the pinch of salt and stir the mixture well till combined
- Press into baking trays (this amount of mixture will typically go into 2 trays) greased and lined with baking paper. Now press the mixture down hard with a rolling pin or a meat mallet to pack it tightly and neatly into your pan.
- Bake at 180 for 30 to 35 minutes watching to ensure it doesn't burn.
- Remove from the pan after 15 minutes and cut while still slightly warm. (If you cut the bars file they are too warm, it will crumble and if you wait too long, the bars will be tough to cut without breaking.
- Let cool completely and then pile into boxes, layers with baking paper. Store in the fridge.