Friday, April 27, 2012

Trail Mix Granola Bars

I came across a recipe on Pinterest for No Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. It was definitely something I wanted to try - but you know me. I'm not going to just make plain granola bars (in my book, chocolate is standard so "chocolate chip" is considered plain). I thought I would try making a trail mix version. I modeled it after my handsome husband's favorite snack to take to work. He puts almonds, raisins and craisins in a bag (sometimes adding something chocolate as well). It's really quite tasty - and addicting I might add.
   The bars came out fabulously, and only took 5 minutes to put together. I was amazed at how easy it was - easier than rice crispy treats I think - no messy marshmallows you have to wait on to melt.  The kids and hubby loved them. My mom said they were better than anything you could get in the store. My son even wants me to make some for the after-game treats for his baseball game next Saturday (That will be a slightly different version, because there are a couple boys with nut allergies.)
   This is the type of granola bar I wanted to make today, but you should make the kind you and your family would enjoy. Have fun playing with the recipe and making it your own. :)

Here's what I did:

In a sauce pot, I put 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup honey and 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, and set the heat to medium.

I brought the mixture up to a boil and cooked on low for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, I got my "trail mix" ingredients together. 1 3/4 cups oats, 1 cup rice cereal, 1/4 cup each of raisins, craisins and sliced almonds.

I poured the hot sauce over the mixed ingredients and stirred it all together.

Then I dumped it into a pan. I wasn't sure what size I would need, so I went with a 9x13.

I pressed down the bars. (You really need to squish them together very tightly!) It was at this point that I realized my pan was WAY too big.  A 9x9 would have been perfect. Oh well. I just smushed it all into one half of the dish.

Then I drizzled some melted chocolate over the top with a fork.

I put them in the fridge to firm up and then I cut them into bars. (You should get 10-12 good sized bars.)

I put some on a plate for the kids for an afternoon snack. (I could have made my cuts a little neater, but the kids don't mind. They just thought it was cool that mommy made granola bars! They wanted to make more, so we made a batch of Peanut Butter S'more Granola Bars next- see next post.)

Here's the recipe:

Trail Mix Granola Bars

1 3/4 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned is up to you)
1 cup puffed rice cereal
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup chocolate chips, -melted or not- for decorating (optional)

In a pot, bring butter, sugar and honey up to a boil. Cook on low for 1 minute. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Add the hot butter mixture on top of the other ingredients and mix well. Dump into a 9x9 square pan and press the mixture flat. (Really press hard to get everything to stick together in a solid mass.)  You can drizzle the top with melted chocolate, or top with chocolate chips. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and then cut into bars.

This recipe can easily be adapted to include any mix-ins you want, just swap out ingredients. If you prefer a crunchy granola bar (vs a chewy version), just boil the butter mixture for longer (2 or 3 minutes). Have fun!

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