After posting the granola recipe, it reminded me of Barefoot Contessa’s granola bars and I had to quickly bake up a batch. I agree with Ina as she prefers to make her own granola bars with real oats, almonds and dried fruit as the commercial granola bars can contain so many different kinds of corn syrup! Not to mention, the preservatives that allow them to last a very long time!
These bars, like the granola, can be personalized to your liking. Additions of mini chocolate chips, peanut or almond butter, replacing almonds with pecans, cashews or peanuts. The original recipe includes pitted dates and dried apricots; however my kids like the dried cranberries and golden raisins. They are easy to make and can become quite addicting!
The bars may crumble when cutting (but isn’t that the “charm” of homemade, that it doesn’t look factory made?). To minimize the crumbling, press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan with a spatula before baking and also after baking while still warm. In addition, definitely allow the pan to cool completely, 4 hours or overnight before cutting. Lining the pan with parchment paper, as you see in my photo, will allow you to lift out the granola slab to your cutting board where you can cut the sizes you like.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics Cookbook
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup of flax-seed or a mix of wheat germ and flax-seed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 x 12 inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the flax-seed.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Place the applesauce, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook for a minute, stirring often. Pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Press firmly with your wet fingers or a wet spatula evenly in the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light gold brown. Cool for at least 4 hours or overnight before cutting into bars or squares. Makes about 12-16 bars.