Granola bars. I’m always confused as to how one could pack so many ingredients into one little bar. To complicate matters even further, I don’t always know what those ingredients actually are, which leaves me quite perplexed. Aren’t granola bars just supposed to consist of oats, nuts, and perhaps fruit?
So this weekend I set out to make my own. While they do contain more than just three ingredients, they’re all easy to identify and something I’m glad to eat. I particularly like the recipe the I followed (the Contessa’s, naturally) because it strikes the perfect salty sweet balance, and tastes far better than anything I’ve purchased in the store. I anticipate many more at home variations to come.
Cranberry Walnut Granola Bars adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Makes 8 Bars
1 1/3 cups old fashion oats
3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
4/3 cup shredded cocounut
1/4 cup wheat bran or wheat germ
3 T ground flax seeds
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 T salted butter
1/3 cup honey
2 T light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x8 inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
Toss the oatmeal, walnuts, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat bran.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the cranberries and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.