Sunday, September 1, 2013

Super easy Chewy-style Granola Bars

I have been on a quest to find the perfect homemade granola bars. My kids and I really like the Chewy granola bars, but, of course they are not gluten-free. I liked this one pretty well, but then I found this no-bake recipe that is super fast and easy and tastes just like the Chewy granola bars we used to buy.

The original was shared by a friend on facebook and credit was given to Carole Jones of My Kitchen Escapades. I've changed it just a little, and probably will tweak it a little more--if I fill the 9x13 pan they are too thin to stick together well, but I just leave 3 inches at the end clear and they're thick enough to stick really well.
No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars
(recipe makes a 9x13 pan)
2 cups quick cooking gluten-free oats (or pulse whole oats in a food processor a bit)
1 C GF Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 C butter
1/4 C honey
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

I've subbed in coconut oil for the butter and it works just fine and makes it dairy-free as well. I think it doesn't stick together as well as with the butter, though. I've read that clarified butter is actually casein-free, so I've made some clarified butter to use and like that taste a little better, but it adds a lot more time--rather than making it in less than 5 minutes it's more like 15.

Mix -In variations listed below

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oats and cereal. Set a small saucepan over medium high heat and melt the butter. Add the honey, brown sugar and salt. Stir together then leave it alone as it comes to a boil. Once the boil has reached all the way around the edges of the pan, begin timing. Allow this mixture to boil for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. During this time, you may need to turn the heat down a bit so it doesn't overflow, but be sure it keeps boiling.
2. Pour the mixture over the oats, using a rubber spatula to get all the sugar mixture out of the pan. Mix the ingredients together until the oats are completely coated. Add in your desired mix-in then press very firmly into a lightly greased 9x13" pan. If you like your bars thicker, you can use a smaller pan. If you do not press firmly enough, the bars will fall apart when you eat them. Place them in the fridge for 20 minutes then cut to size. Like I said, I do it about 9x 10 or 9x11 to get the thickness I like. I use a pizza cutter to cut them, except the very edges, which require an actual knife.

Chocolate Chip
Add 1/2 C of mini chocolate chips to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan, allowing it cool just a bit or you will end up with melted chips. Sprinkle on a few extra chips over the top after they are pressed into the pan.

White Chocolate Cranberry
Add 1/3 C of white chocolate chips and 1/3 C of Craisins to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan, allowing it to cool just a bit first or you will end up with melted chips.

Candy Bar
Add 1/3 C of Heath bar pieces, 1/3 C of mini M&M's and 1/3 C of chopped pretzels to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan.

Peanut Butter
Add 2 Tb of peanut butter to the finished sugar mixture before pouring it over the oats. Once mixed with the oats, add 1/2 C peanut butter chips before pressing into the pan. This is my preferred mix in, along with chocolate chips.

Raisin Nut
Add 1/3 C of chopped raisins and 1/3 C of chopped pecans to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan. 

I haven't gotten the timing right to not get the chocolate chips to melt, so they're pretty darn messy. But they are oh, so tasty.
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